Video captures 200 tonne beams lifted to construct new M8 bridge

Video footage showing the construction of the largest single span bridge being built as part of the £500 million M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements Project has been released by Transport Scotland.

The time lapse footage reveals nine pairs of 3m high steel beams, approximately 77m in length and weighing almost 2,000 tonnes, being lowered into position over the North Calder Water, near Bellshill in North Lanarkshire.

The construction of North Calder Water Bridge is part of major works to upgrade Shawhead Junction. The new bridge will carry traffic on the new M8 over the North Calder Water to the south of the existing A8.

As one of the widest structures of the project at 77.25m, the new bridge will carry three lanes of traffic in each direction, alongside new on and off-slip roads, linking the M8 to the A725 both north and southbound.

The placement of the beams marks a significant milestone in the progress of the project and signifies the culmination of months of planning between Scottish Roads Partnership (SRP), the contractor responsible for delivering the project, and its construction joint venture, Ferrovial Lagan.

Humza Yousaf
Humza Yousaf

Minister for Transport & Islands, Mr Humza Yousaf, said: “This challenging feat of engineering is evidence of the Scottish Government’s substantial commitment to invest in Scotland’s trunk road infrastructure and upgrade the existing A8 to motorway standard.

“I am enthused to see substantial progress being made on this major project, particularly, on the new alignment of the M8. This complex project presents its own unique challenge to up-grade Scotland’s busiest trunk roads, whilst minimising disruption to the 100,000 vehicles using these routes every day.

“Once complete, The M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements Project will significantly reduce congestion across the central Scotland motorway network, and improve travel time reliability on the main route between Glasgow and Edinburgh.”

Articulated lorries brought the beams to site in three sections to comply with weight and length restrictions during transportation. Once safely delivered to site, the sections were welded together before the beams were paired for lifting, each weighing approximately 200 tonnes.

Before any lifting could begin, a massive 1350 tonne crane – the largest crawler crane in the UK and one of the biggest in Europe – was delivered to site by a fleet of 33 HGVs and assembled on site over five days.

When fully assembled the massive crane stood 90 metres in height, towering over the Lanarkshire skyline, and required two smaller cranes – a 750 tonne and a 200 tonne crane to build it – such is the size and scale of this machine.

With a maximum lifting capacity of 1350 tonnes, the operator had to perfectly balance the crane with counterbalance weights ahead of every lift - a slow and meticulous process to ensure a precise and safe operation. The crane operator sat 5.5m above ground level in a fully air conditioned cabin, protected by bullet-proof grade glass.

Dario Saavedra, construction manager for Ferrovial Lagan Joint Venture, said: “This is a significant milestone for the project and a successful operation which we are very proud of. The beam installation took nine days to complete, lifting the giant beams onto the two new bridge abutments, each of which contain over 6000 tonnes of reinforced concrete.

“The beam lift was a complex piece of engineering and an important step towards completion of this impressive project.”

Lyle Cairns, section site engineer, has overseen the progress of the new structure.

He said: “The first excavation for the bridge began in summer 2015 and it is scheduled for completion in September of this year. The beam lift was very exciting to be part of as this was a challenging engineering operation, however, from a personal point of view; it’s pleasing to see the entire construction from start to finish. The most challenging aspect of this structure was the sheer scale and size involved.”

Graeme Reid, project sponsor for Transport Scotland, said: “The M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements Project is one of the biggest transport infrastructure projects currently underway in Scotland, has already generated £226m worth of investment in the economy through sub-contracts, and is providing employment to over 1,000 people.

“Significant progress has been made on the construction of the new M8 and with major structures such as the North Calder Water Bridge and Braehead Rail Bridge at Bargeddie now in place, the new route is clearly visible to regular commuters.”

Gabriel Valtueña-Ramos, general manager for SRP, said: “North Calder Water Bridge is just one example of the great engineering taking place on the M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements Project.

“The new section of the M8, which the bridge will be part of, will save approximately 20 minutes when travelling between Glasgow and Edinburgh at peak periods - as well as easing congestion significantly on existing routes.”

The project is upgrading the core of Scotland’s motorway network and will boost Scotland’s economy by improving connections between the commercial centres of Glasgow and Edinburgh and beyond.

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