Victoria Avenue Tunnel

Leeds-Bradford International Airport Runway over A658, Yeadon

Grid Ref SE 219 415                                                          Date of Construction 1982/83

Length  237m                                                                    Cost  £1.4 million

As a Principal Engineer in the WYMCC Structural Engineering Unit, I was in charge of a team of Engineers tasked with preparing the design and contract documents for the Portal Frame Option for the Victoria Avenue Tunnel at Leeds-Bradford Airport Runway Extension.

Because of the size of the structure, the Structural Engineering Unit, under the Direction of Colin Jones, took the unusual step of producing two designs, to be priced up by the tenderers.

The first design (mine) was to be in-situ reinforced concrete in a continuous portal frame. Intermediate piers rested on spread footings on the sandstone rock, and the outer spans rested on high-level bankseats, resting directly on rock. The outer walls are blockwork facings with porous concrete backfill.

The alternative design, prepared by a separate team under David Smithers, used precast prestressed concrete beams with a composite reinforced concrete deck slab supported on reinforced concrete piers and bankseats. The result of the tendering process showed that the successful contractor’s preferred and cheaper option was the in-situ RC design which I had prepared.

Much attention was given in the design to durability and waterproofing, to minimise the need to access the tunnel roof slab from above, requiring closure of the airport runways. To date, 25 years after construction , the tunnel is still dry and in good condition.

At that time the Airport was managed on behalf of the West Yorkshire Districts by West Yorkshire County Council, who were also the Highway Authority. It has always been my understanding that the Tunnel was financed by the WYMCC as Airport Authority. During my time as Chief Engineer bridges with Leeds City Council, the Airport Authority, by that time a quasi-independent body answerable to the separate West Yorkshire District Councils  argued that the Tunnel was owned by Leeds City Council. I refuted this position and ensured that when the airport was sold to the present private company, the Tunnel was clearly identified as part of the Airport infrastructure.

Location Map                                         Victoria Avenue Tunnel