A NEW railway tunnel — the largest structure on the South Devon Link Road scheme — is nearing completion.
This Saturday , contractors Galliford Try will begin lifting beams to cover the new Aller Railway Tunnel which will take the Torbay railway line underneath a 270m stretch of the new link road and carry road traffic over the railway line when the route opens next year.
Work will begin on the installation of 110 concrete bridge beams across the Aller Railway Tunnel, which lies adjacent to the existing A380 opposite Aller, Newton Abbot.
Working through the night the team will take control of the railway line while concrete beams are lifted into place to span the railway line, which is the largest structure on the £110m project.
It is planned to install 11 beams per night over 10 consecutive Saturday nights.
By carrying out the works overnight it will mean that there will be no disruption to rail services to and from Torbay.
In addition, associated works to the tunnel will take place overnight during the following weeks. The works will not cause any additional noise or disruption to residents.
The beams, which measure 21.4m long and weigh between 31 and 34 tonnes, will be brought in during normal working hours via the existing A380 and stored alongside the track ready for lifting by a 200 tonne crawler crane.
When complete, the tunnel will comprise 3,500 tonnes of reinforced earth, 43,000 concrete blocks, 50,000 tonnes of locally sourced stone, 4,000 m3 of concrete and 700 tonnes of steel.
Gordon Oliver, Mayor of Torbay said: "This is an exciting stage of the project, with many large scale structures and machinery on site.
"Undertaking the installation of these beams overnight means that rail users will not face disruption and this is good news for the busy railway line to Torbay."
Andrew Leadbetter, Cabinet Member for Economy and Growth at Devon County Council, said: "The new tunnel is the largest structure on the South Devon Link Road project and involves some highly complex engineering techniques.
"Throughout the project we've tried to minimise disruption for residents and travellers – which is not always easy in a project of this size and complexity – and we are pleased that the tunnel will be installed without impacting upon rail journeys."
Jim Watson, South Devon Link Road Project Director, said: "The road is under construction on either side of the new tunnel, so these beams will link the two halves together.
"The installation of the new tunnel has created a lot of public interest.
"This is a complex operation, requiring detailed coordination to ensure the safety of the workforce."
The 200 tonne crane is the third crane on site in the last couple of months, following the lifting of three beams into place at Maddacombe Road and also at Hamelin Way.