A45 DAVENTRY DEVELOPMENT LINK ROAD
Posted: Wed, 20 Sep 2017 09:33 by Susan Halkett
Update: September 2017
The main works contract for the A45 Daventry Development Link Road has now been running for around 14 months, and during this time a considerable amount of meaningful progress has been made on a number of aspects forming part of the overall scheme: Following the advance works (Phase 1 contract) which began early in 2016 – entailing initial site clearance of vegetation, trees, hedges etc and establishment of boundary fencing – Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering were awarded the main works (Phase 2 contract) for the new road in July 2016. During the ensuing 14 months, the progress on site can be summarised as follows:
Significant progress has been achieved with the critical earthworks operation, throughout much of the site. This includes excavation for cuttings, some of it in hard ground, to the north of Flore and the operation of placing this excavated fill material to form major embankments north of Weedon, including those leading up to the key railway and canal crossing near Dodford, the river crossing of the Whilton Brook north of Weedon and a new raised alignment for the A5 trunk road. Major excavation has taken place to form cuttings in the vicinity of the Hillside Road bridleway, Brockhall Road and Brington Road areas immediately north of Flore. Good progress has also been made on excavation to the east of Flore towards Upper Heyford, and the building of embankments around the Hollandstone Brook watercourse between the two settlements. Further east still, near M1 Junction 16, work has now commenced on stripping topsoil and placing fill for the proposed eastern termination roundabout. Meanwhile, along the A5 just north of the main road corridor, a new earth embankment – or bund – has been created to provide additional flood protection for the trunk road from the nearby Whilton Brook.
Associated with the earthworks, highway drainage systems have been laid in a number of locations along the site, which are critical to ensuring the eventual surfaced carriageway is able to freely drain surface water during periods of rainfall and the earthworks themselves are properly drained of percolating groundwater so they remain stable. In terms of the drainage works, carriageway drainage pipes and connecting manhole chambers have now been completed or are being placed along the sections of cutting and embankment areas near Brington Road, Brockhall Road and Hillside Road north of Flore, as well as the new alignment for the A5 north of Weedon Crossroads. A separate drainage outfall pipe system has recently been installed to drain the proposed cutting north of residential properties at Upper Heyford. Of particular interest are two balancing ponds out of a planned total of five at intervals along the scheme – these are areas which are designed to retain surface water from the new road during periods of heavy rainfall so it can be released into the river system at a controlled rate: These are currently complete near the Hollandstone Brook (the largest such pond on the scheme) and near the Whilton Brook.
Diversion and protection of underground and overhead services has been taking place at critical locations across the site since works began: This has included (but is not limited to) undergrounding of two high voltage overhead electric cables next to the railway and canal near Dodford (so as not to interfere with the major bridge and embankment construction in the area), gas main and telecom works at the western termination roundabout, the A5 and near M1 Junction 16, and several water mains where the route crosses public roads as well as trunk mains that lay in the path of the new road. Other works include the relocation of two electricity sub-stations and associated feeder connections east of Upper Heyford which lie directly in the path of the new link road.
Of importance to the local land owners are the accommodation works: To ensure farming operations can continue to take place effectively both during and after the works, a number of new field gates have been installed to facilitate access to severed agricultural land, and a series of water troughs have been installed to provide drinking water for livestock. The programme of water trough installation is nearing completion, including water supply feeder pipes. Further farm tracks and stock handling fencing areas have yet to be completed, along with replacement access crossings from public roads into fields where local roads crossing the link road are being altered or diverted in some way, such as the Brockhall and Brington Roads near Flore and the byway road at Upper Heyford.
The Daventry Link Road scheme is characterised by a number of structures, given the constraints imposed by local roads / rights of way, watercourses and other transport corridors which intersect the route. These include:
Brockhall Road Bridge – which carries Brockhall Road over the link road – where the bridge is now complete and the local road it serves was opened on 18th September. This is the most advanced structure on the scheme, and work has also taken place to complete the earthworks and drainage leading up the bridge (on a slightly re-aligned course to its original route), road surfacing and safety barrier installation.
Brington Road Bridge – like Brockhall Road, Brington Road is another key local road north of Flore which is to be carried over new link road via a bridge, mirroring the nearby bridges over the M1 motorway just to the north. Works are now starting on this structure and it is a condition of the construction contract that it could not be closed for any reason until Brockhall Road was re-opened for through traffic. Work on this bridge commenced on 19th September following re-opening of Brockhall Road and the road closure will last approximately 6-7 months, with signed diversions in place for local traffic.
Green Bridge – this is the second most advanced structure on the scheme, and the reinforced concrete bridge deck is now complete. This bridge will eventually carry a bridleway north of Flore (extension of Hillside Road) as well as provide local agricultural access. It is also significantly being provided for ecological purposes to provide a wildlife corridor for bats and various other mammals, owing to severance of habitat by the new road, hence it being titled "Green Bridge".
Upper Heyford Bridge – This is essentially a farm access bridge at Upper Heyford where the abutments (bridge supports) are now complete along with the reinforced concrete bases ready to carry a series of beams forming the span of the bridge. When complete, the bridge will provide continuity of the local byway road as well as providing essential agricultural access.
Whilton Brook Bridge - Elsewhere, a key bridge over a tributary of the River Nene is progressing well. The Whilton Brook Bridge has a particularly large span to meet criteria associated with minimising the effect on the flood plain, and eight large precast beams were recently lifted between the two abutment supports utilising a large 500 tonne capacity mobile crane.
Hollandstone Farm Culverts – These structures are about to begin, however they are crucial elements of the scheme, and will eventually span the Hollandstone Brook watercourse (midway between Flore and Upper Heyford) and provide both a farm access subway under the link road embankment and replacement access over the watercourse.
Dodmoor Rail & Canal Bridge – Last but not least is the critical and largest structure on the entire scheme – the Dodmoor Rail & Canal Bridge. This major two-span bridge will eventually carry the link road over the West Coast Main Line Railway and Grand Union Canal. Currently, sheet piling and bored piling works are either complete or underway for both sides of the bridge and in the centre, a very narrow strip of land between railway and canal for a central support pier which brings particular logistical issues in terms of its construction. Major construction challenges lay ahead for this bridge as a whole – including overnight operations at weekends when Network Rail temporarily closes the railway to allow works to proceed.
Overall, the scheme is progressing well, and maximum advantage is being taken of daylight hours and dry weather to make progress, and this has counteracted earlier periods of poor weather and winter conditions when many activities were slowed or could not take place at all.
Community Liaison & Communications:
Throughout these works, close liaison continues to be maintained with the local land owners, in order to ensure that their farming operations are not compromised or otherwise delayed in relation to the construction operation. Close and amicable relationships are also being maintained with local residents, businesses, parish councils and statutory bodies, collectively ensuring that the works can co-exist whilst minimising disruption and community-related issues.
In this latter respect, a Community Stakeholder Working Group has been set-up, and has already convened on site on a number of occasions to discuss issues relating to the impact of the scheme on the local community, and to address issues before they become problems. Furthermore, Balfour Beatty have registered the project with the Considerate Constructors Scheme, a nationally-recognised initiative which rewards contractors and projects based on being good neighbours with the local residential, business and road-using communities with whom they have to co-exist: Indeed, to date Balfour Beatty have contributed to summer bank holiday events in Weedon and the playing field facilities in Flore.
A positive feature on the scheme – marking 12 months into the main construction period – was broadcast by BBC Radio Northampton in July, along with a media visit by Anglia Television, Heart Radio and the Daventry Express/Chronicle & Echo Newspapers in early August. Such publicity and promotion events help to showcase the scheme where appropriate, whilst links with local schools in terms of safety awareness and careers ideas bring a further community dimension.
Finally, this quarterly Newsletter continues to be issued to those who wish to sign-up to the e-mailing distribution list.