Rawcliffe to Goole

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The Ouse Bridge (J36 to west of J37)

The Ouse bridge

A transportation study into road communication between the Great North Road and Kingston-upon-Hull was undertaken in 1964 by Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick & Partners on behalf of the Department of the Environment. The route of the Rawcliffe to Balkholme Section on the M62, including the crossing of the River Ouse, resulted from that study. This section relieved the A614 between Rawcliffe and Howden and the A63 between Howden and Balkholme.

These roads carried a large volume of traffic with a high proportion of heavy commercial vehicles proceeding to and from the city of Hull. Traffic flow on the A614 is restricted at the Boothferry Bridge over the River Ouse. It is a swing bridge and is frequently closed to road traffic to allow passage of shipping, which resulted in long queues of waiting vehicles in the past. It was the writers responsibility at one time to maintain this bridge when in the West Riding.

The dominant feature of this section of the M62 is the Ouse Bridge, a structure nearly 1.6km long and rising to a height of about 30 metres above the surrounding countryside.

The motorway designed to be built on a small embankment on both sides of the Ouse Bridge because of the low flat nature of the surrounding countryside, much of which is liable to become waterlogged in winter and is below the high tide level of the river.

At the preliminary design stage a comparison was made between the costs of a bridge and an immersed tube tunnel, but a tunnel would have been much more expensive.

Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick & Partners were appointed the consulting engineers to the North Eastern Road Construction Unit of the Department of the Environment for the design and supervision of construction of the Ouse Bridge and of the lengths of motorway on the two adjacent contracts.

The 6.75 million Ouse Bridge Contract was awarded to a consortium of Redpath Dorman Long (Contracting) Limited and Costain Civil Engineering Limited, and commenced in January 1973.

In common with several other medium span bridges which were tendered for in 1972 the contract was awarded for the construction of a plate girder alternative submitted by the contractor. The cost of constructing steel box girders to comply with the latest requirements had made the box girder uneconomical for these spans, at least at that time.

The superstructure of the bridge was designed by Redpath Dorman Long and G Maunsell & Partners designed the substructure on behalf of Costain. Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick & Partners checked the design on behalf of the Road Construction Unit.

In former times the River Ouse meandered over a wide area and extensive deposits of peat and soft clays required a total length of 1310 metres to be bridged, although the river is now constrained by flood banks to a width of 290 metres at the bridge site.

Self-elevating barge

A self-elevating platform barge equipped with steam hammer was used for pile driving. Piling for the river section and abutment foundations consisted of 120 large steel cylinder piles 1.5m diameter and 20m long with reinforced concrete plugs to below the corrosion level. 1900 small diameter step-taper concrete piles, cast in situ in thin corrugated steel driven casings, were used for the approach spans.

The river section has three main spans of 89m and 62.5m side spans, approached by multiples spans on 39m on each side. Both approach and river spans consist of eight steel plate girders acting compositely with a reinforced concrete deck slab. The river span girders are haunched over the piers. The weight of steelwork was 7,300 tons. 17,000 m³ of concrete was required for the piers and 11,000 m³ for the deck slab. 7,700 tons of steel reinforcement was required. Fabrication of steelwork was undertaken at RDL's Teeside works, and 256 bridge bearings were supplied by PSC Ltd. Raymond International (UK) Ltd carried out the piling works and sub-contractors.

David Hayward records in New Civil Engineer 14th August 1975 "Steel supply problems have been a chronic headache to engineers toiling to finish the 29-span Ouse crossing and the major reason for the eight month delay in the bridge's construction timetable.

But, three weeks ago, the project suffered another setback: bolts joining the top of an inclined trestle tower to a braced cross-beam unit sheared, causing a partial collapse of the falsework. The mishap, which has added to about another month's delay to the job, occurred when the trestle tower shifted outwards causing the beam to slip. The beam, which was supporting the ends of eight 36t haunched girders, was prevented from collapse by the bracing of the standard military trestling.

Results of an internal inquiry by steelwork contractors Redpath Dorman Long point strongly to negligence during erection as the main cause of the near disaster. Evidence suggests that four of the 16 bolts required for the fixing were never positioned, and the remaining bolts sheared in very quick succession. Extensive safety and stabilising measures are now being carried out, and consultant Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick is satisfied that the falsework design was never at fault.

The 1.5km long in situ concrete deck acts compositively with eight rows of 2m-deep plate girders to form the bridge's superstructure. These are haunched to 4m over the four river piers.

The 60m long girder units for the river spans are erected in three sections using a 35t Henderson floating derrick. Each end of the 22m long central haunched section is supported on a temporary cross beam unit made up of two braced I-beams. The cross-beam spans three inclined military trestling columns founded through pinned supports on the pier's pile cap. During erection, the haunched section is held 25mm clear of the pier cross-head bearing, while tapered units are friction-grip bolted to each end. It was during a repeat operation over the second main river pier that the falsework slipped.

Shipping was immediately stopped while timber cribbage and tie supports stabilised the girders.

Erection on the river-span will continue as soon as the floating crane can be spared from remedial work on the damaged falsework around the central isolated river pier.

Closing the gap

The recent falsework failure, which could so easily have ended in disaster, suggests more haste, less speed and let the country wait just a bit longer for that final link in the Trans-Pennine motorway.

On either side of the approach viaducts earth embankments extend about 400m at a gradient of 1 in 33 and rise to 13m above ground level at the bridge abutments. This gradient was the steepest permissible on motorways. The embankments were constructed mostly from materials imported from existing pits and quarries, but industrial waste material from an old tip in Goole was also used. The volume of fill in the embankments was 320,000 m³. Surfacing works were sub-contracted to Val de Travers Asphalte Ltd. Pre-earthworks site investigation was undertaken by Foundation Engineering Ltd.

The bridge was officially open to traffic on the 24th May 1976 by John Gilbert the Minister of Transport.

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