Stowmarket set for extra weekend traffic as A14 is closed for bridge work

Essential bridge maintenance work has caused traffic delays Picture: HIGHWAYS ENGLAND

Essential bridge maintenance work has caused traffic delays Picture: HIGHWAYS ENGLAND - Credit: Archant

The A14 at Stowmarket will be partially closed for the next two weekends – pushing traffic through the centre of the town while joints on the viaduct carrying the road are replaced.

Highways England is using a new technique to replace the joints - cutting the time of the work dramatically.

Advances like hydro-demolition and a new rapid drying concrete are expected to cut the time needed to complete major maintenance on the Hillhouse viaduct, which carries the A14 over the River Gipping between Tot Hill and Stowmarket, from around there months to just two weekends of work.

The work will see key components on the bridge replaced to ensure its safe and reliable operation for years to come.

Hydro-demolition (blasting) is a removal technique that utilises high-pressure water to remove deteriorated and sound concrete. Roadworkers will use this skill to quickly remove the concrete surrounding the existing bridge joints, before replacing them with new ones.

Once complete, a rapid drying concrete will be used to secure the joints in place. Instead of having to wait up to seven days for the concrete to cure, and get below the required moisture content, the nineteen tonnes of concrete needed for each joint can set in as little as four hours.

The £1.2m work is part of the £55.8 million being invested in maintaining and improving the East of England's trunk roads and motorways this year.

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Ashley Prigmore, Assistant Service Delivery Manager at Highways England, said: "When most drivers cross a bridge I'm sure they don't give much thought to the joints, but they are vital components and are designed to be replaced from time to time.

"We understand how important the A14 is. By doing this we're able to take vital road upgrades that may have taken 8-12 weeks and complete them over two weekends. This will have a huge impact in terms of minimising disruption."

The first set of joints being replaced supports the eastbound A14. A full closure of the eastbound carriageway will be in place from Friday 9pm to Monday 6am. Next weekend will see the same work take place on the westbound carriageway from Friday 9pm to Monday 6am. Traffic will be diverted via A1120 and A1308 Gipping Way.

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