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Forder Valley Link Road bridge beams to be lifted into place

Visual of the new Forder Valley Link Road bridge over the Bircham Valley

The Forder Valley Link Road project will reach a major milestone on Friday 14 May as work gets underway to install the 28 concrete beams that will form the 140-metre bridge across the valley.

A specialist 100-metre crane is being built on site and will lift each of the 105-tonne beams into place over the coming weeks. The crane, which has a reach of over 70 metres, will take around 23 hours to build and is one of the biggest of its kind in Europe.

Each u-shaped beam measures 32 metres (almost one and a half times the height of Smeaton’s Tower) and will be carefully installed by an eight-strong crew.

Weather permitting, work to start installing the first 14 beams will get underway on Friday at the southern end of the bridge, nearest to Novorossiysk Road. It will take around five days, after which the crane will be dismantled and moved to the northern end of the bridge to install the remaining 14 beams.

Once completed, the 25-metre-wide bridge deck will carry a three-lane carriageway (two uphill lanes and one downhill lane), as well as a footway and cycleway. It will be constructed in four sections, with seven beams in each section.

The bridge beams were manufactured in Ireland and have been transported over a number of weeks, firstly by ferry to Liverpool and then driven down to Plymouth under police escort.

The Forder Valley Link Road will help reduce journey times to and from key destinations such as Derriford Hospital, the University of St Mark and St John and Plymouth Science Park, as well as improve bus service reliability.

It forms part of a wider package of measures that are key to unlocking growth in the north of Plymouth, where over 4,000 new homes are planned over the next 15 years.

Despite challenges brought about by COVID-19, the project is progressing well and the road is on track to open in 2022 as planned.

For safety reasons members of the public are asked not to gather along nearby footways, where space is already limited, to watch the beams being lifted into place. We will be publishing photos and footage of the works on our website and Twitter and Facebook pages.

Find out more about the scheme on our Forder Valley Transport Improvements pages and stay up-to-date by signing up for Balfour Beatty’s e-newsletters – email