Big bang cures Devon bridge of concrete cancer


Highways England has spectacularly demolished the old Merafield Bridge at Plympton, near Plymouth, beginning the final stage of a £6.3m maintenance project on the A38.

A new bridge has been built alongside the old one and was opened two weeks ago.

50kg of explosives were used in the demolition

The old bridge was suffering from alkali silica reaction, known as 'concrete cancer'. The structure would have eventually become unsafe.

Approximately 50kg of explosives were used in the demolition, contained within 278 drilled locations concentrated around the supporting piers and the abutments at each end.

Highways South West regional director, Andrew Page-Dove, said: ‘This was a big project that needed extensive planning to ensure traffic around Plymouth was kept flowing smoothly and the vital A38 transport link between Devon, Plymouth and South East Cornwall was maintained.

'We worked very closely with Plymouth City Council, the Plymouth and Devon Chamber of Commerce and local businesses to ensure we got the traffic management right and we are very grateful for all the support we’ve received.’

The company said the timing of the work on the project has also been co-ordinated to avoid disruption during the region’s holiday season.

The scheme will be fully completed by July. Remaining work will include clearing away the debris from the demolished structure, completing drainage works, finishing works on the new bridge and reinstating road markings.

Highways England has released a video of the demolition.

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