Construction of the North Fringe to Hengrove Package (NFHP) MetroBus scheme in Bradley Stoke and Stoke Gifford has gathered pace over the last two months, with work taking place on Bradley Stoke Way, Great Stoke Way and along the line of the Stoke Gifford Transport Link (known locally as the Stoke Gifford By-Pass), which will link Parkway North with the Avon Ring Road.
However, problems with a shallow depth gas main and an unexpectedly large and complex network of pre-existing underground cable ducts look likely to mean that the closure of Woodlands Lane, which contractors had hoped to lift by Christmas, will now continue into the New Year.
Simon Dunn, area projects manager for Alun Griffiths (Contractors) Ltd, explained that a re-design of this area of the scheme has been necessary to raise the road surface to a safe height above the gas main. Installing drainage pipes has also taken longer because crews have had to resort to hand-digging in order to carefully part bundles of existing cable ducts so that the pipes can be dropped through.
As we went to press, work was starting on the section of Bradley Stoke Way between the Woodlands Lane junction and Patchway Brook Roundabout (near Aldi), where the road will be widened to accommodate a new westbound bus lane (heading up to Aztec West). To facilitate this work, traffic lanes on Bradley Stoke Way have been narrowed and a ban on vehicles making a right turn into/out of Orchard Gate is due be imposed for an estimated duration of 38 weeks from 7th December.
Over on the other side of Bradley Stoke Way, work is under way to construct a new bus-only left-turn lane onto the southbound A38. Much of the work that has taken place here so far is related to the installation of an underground storm water attenuation chamber.
On Great Stoke Way, which runs under the ‘Blue Bridge’, work to install a new northbound bus lane is well advanced. Minor modification of the central reservation is also being undertaken, requiring a lane closure on the southbound carriageway.
Beyond the Parkway North Roundabout, where the contractors’ main site compound is located, the line of the new Stoke Gifford By-pass can now be clearly seen, running down to the railway, where Network Rail will soon be moving on site to remove the existing Curtis Lane footbridge and install a new prefabricated bridge to carry the by-pass over the railway.
On the other side of the railway, a large house (Tudor Lodge) has recently been demolished to make way for the new road, which then heads on to cross Hambrook Lane, and then through open countryside before emerging onto the A4174 Avon Ring Road near Highbrook Park (the new Crest Nicholson housing development).
Trapping of great crested newts (a protected species) along the line of the by-pass was successfully completed by the end of the ‘active season’, allowing construction of the new road to proceed over the winter months.
Around 200,000 tonnes of quarried infill material is required to build the by-pass, and this is currently being brought onto the site, via access points off the ring road and Hambrook Lane, at the rate of 3,000 tonnes (150 wagon loads) a day.
At the southern end of the by-pass route, the 2+ lane on the ring road has been coned-off to allow safe working. Once Bristol Water has completed the installation of a new water main, this end of the new road will be used as a temporary storage area for construction plant.
Subject to weather conditions, the contractors are hoping to have almost the whole route of the by-pass “filled and capped” by Christmas. A temporary crossing will be laid over the Ham Brook, allowing construction plant to pass over the stream prior to the installation of a permanent bridge during a later phase of the project.
Summarising the progress achieved so far on the NFHP MetroBus construction project, which is scheduled to be completed in The Stokes area by spring 2017, project manager Simon Dunn said:
“Progress over the past few months has involved a lot of ‘works in the ground’, where the highest risk of unforeseen conditions occurs. However, as we get out of the ground, people will be able to see the new alignments take shape. The biggest programme issue we have experienced is at Woodlands Lane due to the magnitude of services and we are currently working with the designers to overcome the issues. Once these are resolved, we will update people of the revised programme via our Community Website. However, it is our intention to ‘phase’ the opening of this junction, as soon as possible.”
“We are delighted with the progress on the Stoke Gifford Transport Link, and, following the successful translocation of newts, it will now start to take shape. Our next challenge will be dealing with the winter weather, but we are utilising quarried import material as opposed to general fill material as this is a much more weather resistant surface.”
“As we move into 2016 we will also be rolling out a series of community initiatives and events; should any readers have any ideas we would be delighted to hear them.”
Timeline of the MetroBus Build in Bradley Stoke
Planning for the work to be carried out in Bradley Stoke during the remainder of the project is still being finalised, but the schedule is expected to look something like this:
- Woodlands Lane junction partial/full re-opening: TBD, pending completion of revised scheme design
- Work on new left-turn bus lane from Bradley Stoke Way onto the southbound A38 will continue until late August 2016, due to the need to divert a major Bristol Water main
- Work between Patchway Brook Roundabout and Woodlands Lane junction: November 2015 to April 2016
- Work between the Willow Brook Centre and Patchway Brook Roundabout: April 2016 to December 2016
- Work on the southbound approach to Great Stoke (Rabbit) Roundabout: April 2016 to December 2016
- Work on new MetroBus bus stops at various locations on Bradley Stoke Way: Rolling programme throughout 2016
N.B. All dates shown are estimates based on information currently available. As with any large project of this nature, adverse weather conditions and unforeseen problems may necessitate changes to the schedule.
For the latest information, visit the dedicated MetroBus Build page on the BSJ website: http://bit.ly/metrobusbuild
This article originally appeared in the December 2015 edition of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine, delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
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