Monday, 5 February 2018

It's a Boon When Crossing the Lune (1)

Lancaster's Bridges
Crossing the River Lune was, historically, not very easy. One of the earliest bridges was the Loyne (an old spelling of Lune) Bridge at Hornby, well inland.
When this bridge was built was uncertain, but it was reported as being in poor condition in 1591. Its replacement ...
... is also hard to date but was probably built in the mid to late eighteenth century.

In 1787 Lancaster City got its first road bridge across the river.
Known as the Skerton Bridge it carried all traffic north from the city centre and, upon numbering, became part of the A6.
Continuing inland you will find a cheeky little one-lane bridge at Halton ...
... just about wide enough for one car -
- a tight squeeze.

The first chunk of the M6 had opened in 1958 as the Preston by-pass and, two years later, the road also passed by Lancaster with a junction (close to Halton) with the Caton Road into the city.
The diminutive Halton Bridge (or Denny Beck Bridge - it has many labels, but has never been officially named!) is top right of this historic aerial view.

Despite the M6's taking through traffic from the centre of the City, the easiest route from Lancaster to Morecambe and Heysham, for example, was across the A6 Skerton Bridge. And, as might be expected, it steadily got busier and busier as the years rolled by.

The rescue for Lancaster's traffic began, oddly, way back when the Morecambe Harbour and Railway Company opened a line from Lancaster Green Ayre Station ...
... to the harbour in 1848. It became part of the Midland Railway in 1874.
From Green Ayre, the line veered sharply to cross the River Lune on a fine curved bridge ...
... with a goods yard in the "straight-on" location, now a Sainsburys supermarket.

The line was "wired" in 1908 as a test bed for further Midland Railway electrification.
It was a one-off with its own special trains ...
... drawing 6,600 volts at 25 kilohertz. That was very big electricity for 1908 and was, in fact, the very first application of high voltage in the UK. The trains were replaced with modified cast-offs from the London to Watford line in 1952 and the line closed completely in 1966.

The present "Greyhound" Bridge was opened in 1911, being the third on the site; ere a picture of the demolition of the second bridge.
The present structure is seen peeping in on the far left.

After the Beeching Axe fell, it eventually became a road (re-opening in 1972) to bring much-needed relief to the Skerton Bridge.
Greyhound Bridge now carries northbound traffic, Skerton Bridge for vehicles travelling south. Combined with a one way sausage-about (ell, it isn't "round") via Caton Road and Kingsway, it makes for a complex junction.
But it is now showing its 107 years of age. Something has to be done; but what?

The Council examined several do-nothing options:-

The bridge has been the subject of general inspections every two years since 1995. Based on the current rate of deterioration the following restrictions would be required to be implemented:
2018 – closed to abnormal loads
2020 – closed to all HGVs, implement weight restrictions
            and permits for fire engines
2029 – bridge closed to all vehicles

These were not realistic options for such an important link, so funding was obtained to make substantial structural repairs and strengthening,

Outline of the scheme

The total estimated cost of the works is around £4 million. The proposed work comprises replacement or renewal of a number of features including:

Temporary traffic management
Concrete repairs, inc. installation of galvanic cathodic protection
     and recasting of large areas at the joint positions
Replacement of buried joints
Replacement of expansion joints
Repainting of parapet, piers and superstructure
Deck waterproofing
Carriageway and footway resurfacing
Maintenance repairs to two adjacent bridges and a sign gantry

Everybody needs some galvanic cathodic protection!

So the bridge is closed for six months. Understandably this has caused significant disruption to traffic and public transport; and it is the latter that we will look at tomorrow.

Cue Stagecoach in Lancaster ...
... and the colour orange!

 Next Lancaster blog : Tuesday 5th February 

1 comment:

  1. Just a small correction...
    The Midland Rly electrification and rolling stock were life-expired by 1952, with steam services substituting. The line was then re-energised at 25kV AC 50 Hz as a test-bed for future main-line electrification. The stock used were converted 'Oerlikon' vehicles (ex Watford 'DC' lines) which ran until 1966.