Motorway bridge demolition hailed a success

Demolition of the bridge gets underway. Photo courtesy of Stewart Miller.
Demolition of the bridge gets underway. Photo courtesy of Stewart Miller.

Roads bosses are hailing the success of the operation to demolish a bridge which forced the weekend closure of the M74.

The motorway re-opened late last night, ahead of schedule, while the expected severe congestion on surrounding roads on Saturday and Sunday failed to materialise.

Giant machines were used to "peck" at the bridge structure. Photo courtesy of Stewart Miller.

Giant machines were used to "peck" at the bridge structure. Photo courtesy of Stewart Miller.

Drivers were praised for heeding advice to stay away from the area.

Demolition of Bothwellpark Road bridge in Bothwell meant the motorway was closed for a three-mile stretch between Junctions 4 and 5, Maryville and Raith.

Transport Scotland had warned that, with 140,000 vehicles using the motorway on a typical weekend, traffic was expected to be very heavy on nearby roads and the signposted diversion route via Bellshill bypass and the A8.

However, although queues could be seen leaving the M74 at Raith, it appeared that many people had decided not to travel or to make alternative arrangements.

Roads around Uddingston and Bothwell appeared to be no busier than usual.

Transport Scotland said the 12m high bridge was a lot taller than the average motorway bridge. It had to be demolished to allow widening of the road as part of the M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements Project.

Graeme Reid, Transport Scotland project manager, explained: “With no central pier to support each side of this structure, we had no option but to close the road for the weekend to ensure the safety of road users and our workforce.

“I’m delighted to report that the months of planning to bring down this bridge has made for a highly successful operation, and I’d like to thank everyone involved for their efforts.

“Thanks must also go to the thousands of road users who listened to our advice and changed their travel plans over the weekend to avoid the area. Without their help, we couldn’t have achieved such a successful outcome.”

Work on a replacement bridge was completed before the motorway closed on Friday night for the demolition.

Protective material was laid on the motorway carriageway before two high-reach excavators began to “peck” the concrete on the central span, bringing the bridge down in a safe and controlled manner.

The two Komatsu high-reach machines, normally used for the demolition of tall buildings, were then joined by seven smaller excavators to demolish the outer spans. In total, more than 500 tonnes of concrete, rubble and steel fell on to the carriageway during the night and throughout Saturday.

This mound of material then had to be transported to a nearby processing area to be recycled. The recycled material will be used to construct new link roads and junctions as part of the major up-grade of the M8, M73 and M74 motorways.

Construction teams took advantage of the closure to re-surface large parts of the motorway.

Work on the motorways, which includes a tunnel at Raith, continues over the coming months.

Transport Scotland says it’s still on schedule to finished by the spring when drivers will see “significant” cuts in congestion and journey times.