Bypass team install bridge over steam railway in time for start of holiday season22nd Mar 2011

ENGINEERS are reaching a critical stage on a bridge that will allow historic narrow gauge steam hauled trains to pass under the new £35m Porthmadog bypass.

The three-span structure will take traffic over the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway and the recently-opened Ffestiniog Railway owned route to Caernarfon at the point where the two lines run alongside each other.

Construction of the bridge has been timed to ensure the main beams are fitted and in place before the start of the holiday season later this month when the trains start to run regular services.

A joint venture partnership of Balfour Beatty and Jones Bros Civil Engineering is building the Porthmadog, Minffordd and Tremadog bypass for the Welsh Assembly Government.

Wyn Daniels, partnership project manager, described the construction of the bridge as a major milestone in the bypass scheme.

He said: “We would like to thank everyone at both the railway companies for their patience, understanding and co-operation while this essential work is carried out. “We are working to ensure there is minimal disruption to these much-loved railways.”

The bridge includes 150 tonnes of steel beams fabricated by the Cleveland Bridge company in Darlington. They were transported to the site on low loaders.

The beams, which will support a concrete deck, were lifted into place in 14 separate lifts by a 200 tonne mobile crane brought in from the Netherlands.

Work on the new bypass is progressing well. The new section of the A487 carriageway will improve journey times, ease congestion and significantly improve environmental conditions by enabling current through traffic to bypass Porthmadog and the two villages.

It is anticipated that part of the new road past Tremadog will be ready for use by the middle of the year. The entire bypass should be completed and open to the public before the end of this year.