What will become the UK’s longest railway bridge is currently being built in west London, and they’ve reached a milestone of completing the nearly 300 piles that will be needed to hold it up. Once complete, the 2.1 mile Colne Valley Viaduct will carry HS2 trains above west London’s former gravel pits which are now a series of large lakes.

Colne Valley Viaduct (c) HS2

Last week, the last of 292 concrete piles that will form the foundations for the bridge was completed. The piles that can be as much as 60 metres deep will support the above-ground piers that will in turn support the railway bridge.

Colne Valley Viaduct span over the A412 Denham Way, Nov 2022 (c) HS2

On top of each group of piles, a concrete pile cap will support the pier which will in turn support the weight of the bridge structure above. Instead of hammering the piles into the ground, holes were bored before being backfilled to create the piles.

The construction of the foundations, the 56 huge piers and the deck on top, have all been happening in parallel – with separate teams working from north to south. Deck assembly began last year, with more than 500 meters of the viaduct structure now complete.

Piling work for the Colne Valley Viaduct from the temporary jetty Summer 2022 (c) HS2

In order to deliver the 66 piles in the lakebed, the team first had to construct over a kilometre of temporary jetties, with cofferdams to hold back the water around each set of foundations. The jetties are also used to transport materials and equipment during the construction of the piers and viaduct deck, keeping vehicles off local roads.

The main deck of the viaduct is being built in 1,000 separate segments at a temporary factory nearby and assembled using a bridge-building machine which lifts each piece into position before shifting itself forward to the next pier.

Colne Valley Viaduct construction over the A412 Nov 2022 (c) HS2

HS2 Ltd’s Project Client, David Emms said: “The completion of the piling for the Colne Valley Viaduct is a major achievement for our whole team and marks the end of almost two years of hard work. With pier construction and deck assembly also well underway, the viaduct is fast becoming one of the most impressive and recognisable parts of the project.”

The viaduct is being built by HS2’s main works contractor Align JV – a team made up of Bouygues Travaux Publics, Sir Robert McAlpine, and VolkerFitzpatrick, working with its contractor KVJV– who spent almost two years on the piling. KVJV is a team made up of Keller Group and VSL International.

Set low into the landscape, the widest spans are reserved for where the viaduct crosses the lakes, and narrower spans for the approaches. This design was chosen to enable views across the landscape, minimise the viaduct’s footprint on the lakes and help complement the natural surroundings.

This article was published on ianVisits


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