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Forder Valley Link Road reaches major milestone

One of Plymouth’s biggest ever road projects has reached a major milestone.

The first steps in the construction of a new 140-metre bridge for the Forder Valley Link Road scheme have begun.

Significant earthworks have taken place over the past few months to prepare for the construction of the supports at either end of the bridge.

Weighing in at 133 tonnes and standing as tall as six double decker buses, the piling rig is now on site to install the concrete piles that provide the foundation to the bridge supports.

The piling rig drills an 18 metre deep, 900mm diameter hole down to the bedrock, which is then filled with concrete and reinforced with steel. There are 27 piles underneath each of the two supports at either end of the bridge and three additional columns across the central span.

The bridge deck, which will carry the road, footway and cycleway, will be constructed in four sections, each one seven beams wide. Each beam, the first of which is due to be installed in the spring of 2021, will be 32 metres long.

There will be no expansion joints or bearings between the sections, making this the largest ‘integral’ bridge in the UK. Because of this the bridge will require much less maintenance, which means less disruption to motorists. Since there are no joints the bridge will also provide a more comfortable and smoother ride.

The bridge will run over the Bircham Valley and carry the Forder Valley Link Road, connecting William Prance Road in Derriford and the Forder Valley Road/Novorossiysk Road junction. The new road will create a much-needed alternative link between the A38 and the north of the city, avoiding the often heavily congested Manadon Roundabout and the A386 Tavistock Road.

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

The project also includes safer routes for cyclists and pedestrians and will be complemented by improvements to the Forder Valley (Leigham) roundabout.

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. Others include the Derriford Transport Scheme, Derriford Hospital Interchange and Marjon Link Road.

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