Productive first year for Norwich NDR construction teams

Construction of Norwich Northern Distributor Road (A1270) is ahead of schedule in many areas as the first year of the contract draws to a close.

Overall the project is well ahead on earthworks, with 1.2 million of the 1.5 million cubic metres of bulk excavation completed, on top of over 500,000 cubic metres of topsoil strip. This has allowed around 8.9 km of the 40 km of carriageway (20 km X 2) to be stabilised and most of this (8.5km) has been protected from frost with base asphalt layers (the remaining 400 metres has been protected with sand). Having 14,000 tonnes of surfacing down (laid by Tarmac) at this stage is also well ahead of schedule – but the main surfacing effort will be in 2017, with another 149,000 tonnes to be laid to complete the dual carriageways and side roads (such as the realigned Drayton Lane).

The stretch from the A1067 Fakenham Road to the A140 Cromer Road junction is furthest advanced. Fakenham Road, Fir Covert Road and Reepham Road roundabouts are complete and being used by traffic, with only some sign installation and verge works still being carried out. It is at this end where hedgerow planting by Norse Group is already underway – the start of a huge planting operation that will see around 300,000 trees (30,000), hedgerow plants and shrubs being planted by over two seasons.

East of Norwich Airport, the Salhouse Road roundabout is likely to be the next to open to traffic – by Easter – with work being stepped up on the North Walsham Road and Wroxham Road roundabouts in the New Year.

Construction of the NDR/A140 Cromer Road junction - the only ‘grade separated’ junction on the route, with the A140 going over the NDR, and slip road access on to the dual carriageway – is a major project in its own right. Work on the A140 bridge is going well, with beams expected to be on by the end of March and traffic using the bridge by August. Progress on the junction also depends upon completion of the realigned Drayton Lane because this will take all the B1149 Holt Road traffic. Earthworks and utility service diversions are virtually complete, with a late May target for opening the realigned lane.

Although the big A140 junction is a key part of the project, the opening of the NDR depends upon many other structures being complete. As well as the A140 flyover, there are seven other bridges and a bat underpass along the route, with five bridges over the dual carriageway, and the NDR going over Plumstead Road and the Norwich to Sheringham Railway. Generally bridge works have been progressing well and only Storm Angus and sharp frosts around the start of December prevented at least one having its main beams in place by Christmas. The first beam lifts are now likely to take place in January, with both the Plumstead Road and Buxton Road bridges programmed to have the main beams in place by the end of the month – with Marriotts Way not far behind.

Ian Taylor, Project Manager for Norfolk County Council, paid tribute to the way the Balfour Beatty and County Council teams, with support from Mott MacDonald, had worked together.

“Given that we had so little time between full approval by the Government and the start of work on 4 January, it is remarkable that we have been able to gear up so quickly and get so much done in the first 12 months,” he said.

“Environmental and wildlife featured large in the early days, and we were probably the only people to be thankful of the late cold spell because an early start to the nesting season would have stopped much of the site clearance work – although the lower temperatures also delayed our newt trapping.

“We knew that the weather would continue to have a big part to play. With around two million cubic metres of topsoil stripping and bulk excavation to be carried out, a wet spring and summer would have made life very difficult. We had a taste of this at the end of June, when the storms inundated our works and caused a lot of damage, but after that the weather dried up and stayed fine well into the autumn. Storm Angus knocked us back, and also the cold snap around the beginning of December because it was too cold to pour concrete - but when we started last January, if you had offered us this amount of progress by the end of the year, we’d have grabbed it with both hands.”

Chris Sedman, Project Director for Balfour Beatty, said:

“Yes, we’ve done well in the first year, but there are some real challenges ahead – especially if we are going to meet our aspiration of having traffic using the road by this time next year. If we can maintain momentum, that’s not out of the question, but most of the winter still lies ahead, and a prolonged cold snap would be bad news.

“Whatever the weather brings, we know that our work in the months ahead will inevitably affect local people and road users. Some communities, such as the Plumsteads and Horsford, probably feel that they have had more than their fair share of disruption, but they have also understood that we have a job to do, and that everyone benefits if we can finish sooner rather than later. Their continued patience is appreciated

“Having said that, this work is to provide Norfolk, Broadland and Norwich with high-quality infrastructure that will serve the county, its people and the economy for years to come, so while we will do our best to minimise any pain, the gain will be real, and lasting.”

(See progress summary below).
2016 Norwich Northern Distributor Road progress summary

-414 Archaeological trenches excavated
-22ha of archaeological strip, map and record (completed)
-7km of newt fence
-Over 300ha of site clearance (includes approx 5000 trees)
-Over 2,000 amphibians, including 587great crested newts, 488 smooth newts, 885 toads and 103 frogs, trapped and moved
-4 Newt habitat ponds created
-All mitigation and compensation bat boxes installed (81)
-Over 100 bird boxes put up – 10 barn owl boxes follow
-2 Bat roost barns

Fencing and drainage
-42km of fencing complete – 2km remaining
-10 km of drainage installed so far – 23km remaining
-20 Drainage lagoons created – 7 remaining
-Ditch and lagoon excavated to protect Wensum Valley
-Utility Service diversions
-50 Utility service diversions changed over or ready – 30 remaining
-High Pressure gas main diversion completed
-512,000 cubic metres of topsoil strip (almost complete)
-1.2 million cubic metres of bulk excavation – 0.3 -cubic metres remaining
-11,507t of material so far used for structures, compounds, piling mats, crane platforms
-56,000 cubic metres of site-won gravels stockpiled -for surface construction

-Marriott’s Way Bridge - Abutment bases, columns and central pier poured, reinforced earth walls completed
-Bell Farm Track Bridge - Abutment bases and columns poured, reinforced earth walls completed
-Cromer Rd Bridge - Abutment bases and columns poured. Reinforced earth walls on-going
-Buxton Rd Bridge - Abutment bases, columns and central pier poured. Reinforced earth walls completed. Crosshead beams and deck beams very soon
-Newman Road Bridge - Excavated, with works to structure to commence soon
-Rackheath Railway Bridge - CFA piling works completed. North and south abutment bases poured: Bridge beams on by Easter 2017
-Plumstead Rd Bridge - CFA Piling, Abutment bases completed, walls very soon!!
-Middle Rd Bridge - CFA Piling Completed
In total: 2,354 cubic metres of concrete in place – 5,875 remaining

Main carriageway and junctions
-8.9 km of carriageway stabilised (out of 40 km total)
-8.5km protected with base layer asphalt (or base and binder)
-Fakenham Rd, Fir Covert Rd, Reepham Rd roundabouts tied in and open to traffic. Verges and signs being completed
-A140 Cromer Road – Bridge works progressing well with beam installation due by end of March 2017, traffic to be utilising new bridge by end of July 2017
-North Walsham Road roundabout - Drainage works underway and utility service diversions complete – earthworks and pavement construction in New Year
Wroxham Road roundabout – Utility service diversions due to be complete by mid-February 2017, followed by the main construction works
-Salhouse Road roundabout – Earthworks complete, drainage underway, due to open to public traffic by Easter
-Plumstead Road junctions – Works to progress in summer 2017

Side Roads
-New Drayton Lane - Earthworks and utility service diversions complete. Target to open by 19 May 2017
Green Lane West/Wroxham Rd junction – will commence towards the end of February
Progress on cycleways, bridleways and paths – being completed as mainline works and roundabouts progress

Health & Safety
-Over 500,000 hours recorded without a LTA (Lost Time Accident)
-Accident Frequency Rate (LTA’s per 100,000 hours) – 0 (target <0.05)

Norfolk County Council

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