Work on the A6 to Manchester Airport Relief Road took a huge step forward over the Easter weekend as a new 2,000 tonne rail bridge was successfully slid into place on the Hazel Grove to Buxton railway line.

Carrying the railway line over the new road, the bridge is one of the longest single span plate girder bridges of its type in the country. Constructed using weathering steel to reduce future maintenance costs for the main beams and reinforced concrete for the deck, the bridge has been assembled on site over recent months alongside the A6, Hazel Grove.

The Easter weekend saw contractors working around the clock to remove 20,000 tonnes of earth before carefully sliding the bridge into place. Rail tracks were then re-laid over the new bridge. All of the work was undertaken successfully within the four day period that the rail line was permitted to be closed for and the project team were able to hand the railway line back to Network Rail six and a half hours earlier than planned.

One of 12 bridges along the 10km relief road route, the Hazel Grove – Buxton rail bridge is the largest single structure of the entire project. As well as allowing the new dual carriageway and a dedicated cycle/footpath to pass under the rail line, the bridge has also been designed to provide access points for farm vehicles allowing them to access neighbouring fields.

Eamonn Boylan, Chief Executive of Stockport Council said: “I would like to congratulate the project team on the successful bridge slide this weekend, undertaking a task of this scale is no small feat and its success is down to their meticulous planning and attention to detail. Work on constructing the much needed A6 to Manchester Airport Relief Road can now press ahead, bringing with it improvements to our local road network and new jobs and opportunities for all.”

Neil Rogers, CMS Project Director said “I am immensely proud of how well the team have performed on this bridge. It has been a very challenging and complex structure requiring a high level of engineering and surveying expertise to ensure everything fitted together correctly. We have spent over two years planning this bridge slide. Seeing everything come together as planned is very rewarding. We had a lot of public interest over the weekend and a number of our staff enjoyed the opportunity to discuss the work with them as they watched the slide take place.”

The A6 to Manchester Airport Relief Road is a 10km of dual carriageway being constructed to improve access across south east Manchester and east Cheshire. The new road will bring significant benefits to communities by improving connectivity; reducing levels of local congestion and ensuring that local employment and business opportunities are within easy reach for all. The £290m road is a joint venture between Stockport Council, Manchester City Council and Cheshire East Council with contractors Carillion Morgan Sindall. The project remains on schedule to open in autumn 2017.