‘Munching machines’ deployed in final phase of flyovers demolition

In the next few days the remaining four spans of the Northern flyover will be taken down as four-month long £6.75m task of dismantling the flyovers nears completion. Tony McDonough reports

Demolition of the Churchill Way flyovers is entering its final phase


Engineers are entering the final phase of the £6.75m demolition of Liverpool’s Churchill Way flyovers.

In the next few days the remaining four spans of the Northern flyover will be taken down as four-month long task of dismantling the condemned 50 year-old structures nears its end game.

Both flyovers were closed at the end of September 2018 following the discovery of serious structural flaws. A more detailed examination revealed that multiple, significant defects could not be fixed.

Contractors for the project are to deploy ‘munching machines’ originally used on the removal of the footbridges, which serviced the city centre’s last remaining ‘highway in the sky’. This technique will replace the ‘cut and lower’ method deployed to date.

The change in methodology will mean that no further closures are required on neighbouring Byrom Street and Hunter Street from Monday, November 25. To offset any dust issues from the ‘munching’ method, water spray will be used to create a mist to prevent air born particles drifting away from the site.

The removal of the remaining North flyover spans, each weighing up to 600 tonnes – will begin at 7pm this Friday, November 22, and will require lane closures of Hunter Street westbound, heading to the A59 and Birkenhead Tunnel, and Byrom Street, southbound heading to the Birkenhead Tunnel.

The lane closures are scheduled to end at 5am on Monday, November 25. This will be the final closures for the gargantuan scheme as the remaining South flyover spans sit away from any public roads. These will be removed by early December.

Both Mersey tunnels will remain open over the weekend. However, for tunnel users travelling from Liverpool to Wirral, access to the Birkenhead tunnel will be via Victoria Street only. Tunnel users are advised to consider using the Wallasey tunnel where possible.

The lane closures will also means some changes to bus services, due to diversions, such as the Liverpool to Southport service. Details on the changes can be found by clicking here. There may also be disruption to other city centre bus services due to potential congestion. Motorists are advised to allow more time for journeys.

Pedestrians needing to get to the LJMU campus on Byrom Street can go via Hatton Garden to Great Crosshall Street or via William Brown Street, Islington and Hunter Street (when not fully closed).

Cllr Sharon Connor, Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet member for Highways, said: “After months of planning and sheer hard work, the finishing line on removing the Churchill Way Flyovers is now in sight.

I’m sure everyone who travels into Liverpool city centre will welcome the progress that has been made and the fact the remaining spans will not require any more road closures will be a nice bonus for businesses in the run up to Christmas.

I must applaud the engineers for their flexible approach to this hugely complex challenge. The need to swap techniques only came to light in the past few weeks. It has required a huge rethink in terms of logistics but they’ve done it efficiently and without interruption to the overall timetable.

By introducing the munching technique, Liverpool City Council has decided to transfer the rubble to Riverside Drive to be immediately recycled as sub-surface material for the expanded coach park it is currently building.”

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