Joint and Bearing Repairs



River Aire Bridge                                                         Grid Ref SE 483245

A162 (formerly A1) over River Aire, Ferrybridge              Date of Repair Works 1985

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Location Map        River Aire Bridge (A1 over river Aire)

click for Google maps Location

The construction River Aire Bridge, Ferrybridge began in 1964 under a contact with Martin Cowley for the construction of the Ferrybridge by-pass on the A1 trunk road. Martin Cowley unfortunately went into liquidation  in 1965. The bridge was completed under a new contract with Christiani and Nielsen starting in April 1966 and completing in 1967. The final cost of the bridge was about £500,000. The story of the bridge construction can be found on the Motorway Archive website

I recall visiting the site during the construction with a party from the Engineering Society whilst I was studying at Cambridge University in 1964/65.

During the period 1980 to 1983, whilst I was working for West yorkshire County Council as a Senior Section Engineer and Principal Engineer  I undertook a programme of Principal Inspections of all the bridges on the A1 trunk road between Wetherby and Wentbridge. These were the first Principal Inspections (P.I.) of their kind that had been carried out for the Department of Transport. The P.I. reports on some 27 structures, ranging from small diameter culverts through 1,2,3 and 4 span under and over bridges in steel and concrete to major river crossings such as the Wharfe bridge (Wetherby), Aire bridge (Ferrybridge), and Wentbridge Viaduct, were subsequently used as a primary source of information on which a rolling maintenance program for the structures was based.

Somewhere I have a photo of myself inside the concrete box cantilevers -- watch this space!

The principal Inspection report for the River Aire bridge identified a major problem with the vertical pin bearings at midspan where the two cantilevers meet. The transverse deck movement joint (Andre A50) in the carriageway above the bearings was leaking badly and allowing salt water to reach the sliding surfaces of the glacier mechanical bearings. These surfaces (PTFE/steel) had locked and were being extruded from the bearings by a saw-tooth action.

Access to the bearings was difficult - via the access doors over the piers and then through the hollow boxes to the centre span where headroom gradually became very limited - crawling only.

I supervised a contract for the refurbishment of the movement joints and bearings in-situ at a cost of approximately £30,000. Replacement horizontal and rotational sliding surface were fitted to the purpose made Glacier bearings. Unfortunately, I do not have any photographs of the works, which took place in cramped conditions.

However, I did take the opportunity of re-visiting the bridge in 2010 , after the A1 had been re-located from the Ferrybridge Bypass to the new A1 motorway. The River Aire bridge now carries the A162.

River Aire Bridge from the West, March 2010