The work started in October 2018 with the demolition of the old bridge, a two arch brick structure, which was no longer adequate. It had become a traffic ‘pinch point’ on an important route in Crewe, serving as it does not only the Bentley factory but also Leighton Hospital, and was to be replaced by a three span concrete arch bridge crossing two freight lines and the CMP1 West Coast Main Line which runs between Crewe and Manchester Piccadilly.
The Sydney Road Bridge crosses the railway in the north of Crewe, and forms part of a major redevelopment of the area. The bridge was largely financed through a Local Growth Fund grant of £5.85 million, with a further £4.15 million from developer contributions. Cheshire East Council looked to Network Rail to replace the single-lane road bridge with a structure capable of carrying two-way traffic, as well as ensuring a safer crossing for both cyclists and pedestrians.
Network Rail entrusted the project to a contractor with extensive experience with these type of projects, J. Murphy and Sons, and they, in turn, commissioned Shay Murtagh Precast Concrete to manufacture and deliver the abutment units for the bridge, a development that had been designed and proved on a previous project. These precast units have cast-in sleeves to allow the linking reinforcement to be installed, and the strength and durability of pre-cast concrete made it the ideal choice of material for this important part of the structure.
It was a difficult project, and adverse weather conditions did not help. The bridge was finally opened to all traffic in September 2019, a little late, but the delay had been unavoidable; the final surfacing of the road required dry conditions for several days, and persistent rain made the work impossible. The bridge had to remain closed to all except pedestrians and cyclists. This was frustrating for all concerned, as everything else had been completed on time. The weather, however, was beyond the control of even the best of contractors.
The bridge was finally opened to vehicular traffic in September 2019, and Deputy Council Leader Craig Browne, when declaring the bridge open, said that the people and businesses could now feel the benefits.