Stourton North and South Bridges

M621 Motorway over A61/A639, Leeds

Grid Ref SE 318 304 and SE 320 303

Date of Construction 1969

These two bridges and the embankments between were constructed as part of the Stourton Link scheme when I was on site in 1969 for my site experience prior to my Civils interview. (see Valley Farm Bridge for more details ). I supervised the construction, but the design had already been completed by other engineers.

The design of the two bridges, which appear identical, is remarkable in that they are typical of the M62 bridges that were being constructed during the same period through the West Riding of Yorkshire. Much research had been invested in the optimum form of a standard bridge and resulted in the characteristic inclined abutment face. 

The standard bridge concept was pursued to the extent of standard drawings of a diagrammatic form rather than conventional scale drawings. This type of drawing might have been easier to produce in the drawing office but was rather difficult to use in the construction stage. The motorway over the bridges has a tight horizontal curve as it changes from rural to urban motorway entering Leeds. As a result the super-evelation is at a maximum across both the bridges with significant crosssfall on the bearing shelves, requiring non-standard reinforcement. Unfortunately, the photographs, taken in bright sunshine in February 2008 (when the temperature reached 15 Deg C) do not show the crossfall in the heavy shadow.

The two bridges differ in their foundations. Stourton North is on spread footings, whilst Stourton South has bored pile foundations, about 600mm diameter from memory. The strata under the North bridge required treatment of  voids resulting from coal extraction in seams that had been worked. Several tonnes of PFA cement grout were injected into these old workings, before the excavation for the spread footings could begin.

Grouting was not an option at the South bridge so bored piles were constructed through the coal bearing strata to competent rock. The piles were excavated using an ‘Archimedes’ type screw piling rig. Steel reinforcement cages were then lowered into the cylindrical hole and concrete poured in from truck mixers. The piles were load tested over a period of approximately 24 hours. I well remember spending a night with the piling crew observing the dial gauges which monitored settlement of the pile head throughout the test.

The bridge decks were constructed from precast pre-tensioned deflected tendon  bridge beams, manufactured by Fairclough at Accrington, again M62 standard designs. Only end diaphragms are included with the reinforced concrete deck slab. Once more, research in the West Riding Road Construction Unit had concluded that internal bridge deck diaphragms, of the type conventionally used prior to the late 1960s (and seen in many of the bridges on the A1 Trunk Road), were expensive to construct and could be dispensed with, giving a more flexible bridge deck. This characteristic was put to good use on the M62 bridges in the active coal mining area around Ferrybridge, which underwent severe distortion during mining subsidence. See my Shilling Hill Bridge page.

The Motorway over the bridges was renumbered as M621 when the M1 was extended from Stourton to Bramham Cross-roads in the 1999 as the M1-A1 Link.

Click here to see some of my construction photographs of Stourton North and South Bridges.


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Stourton North and South Bridges


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