Can’t even carry people: Liverpool to demolish dangerous, flawed, downtown flyovers

Two 48-year-old flyovers in the centre of Liverpool, England are to be demolished after an inspection found them unsafe for vehicles or even people because of defects.

The Churchill Way flyovers behind the museums and galleries in William Brown Street cannot be strengthened, and replacing them would cost up to £60m – while tearing them down would cost less than £6m, Liverpool City Council said Friday (22 February).

An inspection carried out by Amey found poor steel placement, spalled concrete, failed formwork, failed drainage and signs of overstress in the decks.

It is our view that there is no safe option other than demolition– Trevor Cherryholme, Amey Consulting

The two-lane, concrete structures opened in 1970 as part of a ring road plan that was cancelled.

They were closed at the end of September 2018 for inspections after design and construction flaws were discovered.

Following new legislation on major highways structures, a Post Tensioned Special Inspection (PTSI) began in 2016 to assess the northern and southern sections, both of which are more than 240 metres in length.

This found problems with drainage, internal support, barriers and bearings which led to the flyovers being shut last autumn for investigations into potential hidden defects and potential overstress.

Since then, structural testing has been carried out, involving removal of the road surface, drilling into the decks and underground assessments of every supporting column has been carried out. 

Engineers from Amey found the quality of construction using concrete and steel was poor, with tendons and ducts corroded and signs of structural distress including cracking over some supports.

They calculated that strengthening the structures is not feasible and the cost of replacing them would be between £50m and £60m, compared to a demolition price of £5.7m. 

Work is expected to start on taking them down in the summer.

Liverpool council will come up with proposals to improve the Queensway Tunnel roundabout and the Hunter Street interchange at an estimated cost of £10 million to cope with increased traffic flow caused by the loss of the flyovers.

The footbridges across Hunter Street will be fitted with temporary ramps to allow pedestrians to cross the road.

Councillor James Noakes, Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, said: "The Churchill Way flyovers are a relic of a plan from half a century ago that was never completed."

Trevor Cherryholme, Principal Project Manager, Amey Consulting, said: "It is our view that there is no safe option other than demolition."

Image: Unsafe: The Churchill Way flyovers behind the museums and galleries in William Brown Street (Google Maps)

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