The bridge was opened in 1961 and is a through arch bridge with a main arch span of 330 metres carrying the A533 and a cantilevered footway over the River Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal.
We were initially tasked with carrying out blast cleaning and specialised coatings application to bays 4-21 of the underside deck of the bridge. In October 2011 we were awarded blasting and painting orders as part of the refurbishment of the Widnes approach and Spandrel section of the bridge. Preparation involved both mechanical preparation and dry blasting, followed by the application of Highways specified protective coatings to approximately 14,000 m² of structural steelwork. All of this area was below the main deck with very restricted access for our operatives and a maximum height of just 1.90 metres in some areas. These works were carried out over a period of 11 months.
Whilst this order was successfully in progress we were awarded an additional phase on the opposite side of the bridge and above the deck, comprising the above deck columns, top lateral bracings and lower arch steelwork. Most of these areas were located approximately 20 metres above the deck and were accessed via fully encapsulated scaffold. As these work areas were predominantly above deck, it was not possible to work on all areas during normal working hours. Programming therefore had to take into account working during weekend road closures with access being gained via MEWPs. As these works overlapped with the ongoing works at the other end of the bridge, we maintained 2 separate gangs of operatives working concurrently for a period of time.
The works on this section consisted of approximately 4,500 m² of structural steelwork with the preparation methods and the coating system being consistent with previous orders. These works had a value of just under £2 million and were completed in the late summer of 2013 with no environmental incidents despite the majority of the works being carried out over water and in the heavily built up area of Runcorn and Widnes.