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INNOVATIVE 'PLASTIC' BRIDGE TECHNOLOGY WELCOMED BY HIGHWAYS AGENCY

HIGHWAYS AGENCY News Release (HA/NW/072/06) issued by The Government News Network on 1 June 2006

A new lightweight 'plastic' bridge has been installed over the M6 motorway in Lancashire allowing rapid construction and reduced disruption road users.

The innovative fibre−reinforced polymer (FRP) bridge is two−thirds the weight of the old bridge, but stronger and offers cost savings through reduced maintenance in the future.

FRP is the first major new construction material since the introduction of reinforced concrete 100 years ago.

This is the first time the Highways Agency has used FRP for road bridge construction on the motorway network, but the technique has been used on footbridges,

The new bridge will replace the 40−year−old farm access bridge at Mount Pleasant near Garstang in a £2 million project.

Although only for farm and equestrian centre access, the new bridge has been built to carry vehicles up to 40 tonnes.

The benefits of the technique are:

* Lightweight bridge allows rapid installation reducing disruption during construction.
* New bridge has a superior strength/weight ratio to steel or concrete.
* Non−corrosive properties with water and salt, thus reducing future maintenance.
* Reduced future maintenance means road users will see fewer road works and experience less disruption.
* Reduces whole life costs
* Demonstrates the Highways Agency's commitment to using innovative techniques.
* The Highways Agency by investing in new technology hopes to help stimulate further innovation which will led to cheaper and more durable bridges

Highways Agency project manager Phil Davies said:

"The use of innovative techniques is essential to ensure that we have a road network fit for modern day road users. Using FRP means this new bridge will be two−thirds the weight, but twice as strong as using conventional materials.

"The advantage for motorists is that there is less disruption because construction time has been reduced and less maintenance will be needed in the future and demonstrates the Highway Agency's commitment to investing in new technology."

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. The Highways Agency is an executive agency of the Department for Transport. It manages, maintains and improves England's motorways and trunk roads on behalf of the Secretary of State.

2. Photographs and a DVD of the bridge during construction are available on request.

3. The Highways Agency traffic information website is at http://www.highways.gov.uk/trafficinfo.

4. For real−time traffic information, the Highways Agency 24−hour voice activated telephone service is on 08700 660 115. (Calls from BT landlines to 0870 numbers will cost no more than 8p per minute; mobile calls usually cost more)

5. For general information about the Highways Agency and its work, visit the Highways Agency website http://www.highways.gov.uk, or telephone the Highways Agency information line on 08457 50 40 30 at any time. (Calls from BT landlines to 0845 numbers will cost no more than 4p per minute; mobile calls usually cost more.).

Issued on behalf of the Highways Agency by GNN North West

For enquiries from the media, journalists and researchers only, the Highways Agency's press officers at GNN North West can be contacted on 0161 952 4517 or e−mail clive.naish@gnn.gsi.gov.uk


Media enquiries out of hours should be made to the Highways Agency National Press Office on 0207 081 7443.