Balfour Beatty VINCI completes giant pier for Water Orton Viaducts

Balfour Beatty

Balfour Beatty VINCI has completed the first of 32 giant piers for the first Water Orton Viaduct, as work ramps up to build the Delta Junction, HS2’s most complex network of structures in the West Midlands.

HS2’s main works contractor for the West Midlands is building the 1,400m long northbound and southbound structures, which will connect HS2’s Birmingham Curzon Street Station with Crewe and Manchester.

They are part of the Delta Junction, which is a triangular section of the high-speed railway made up of nine precast segmental viaducts, embankments, and other bridging structures, with around 10km of track crossing a network of motorways, roads and rivers.

Reaching 20m tall at its highest point, the two viaducts will be amongst the tallest structures along the HS2 route, taking trains over key transport corridors including the M42, the Birmingham to Peterborough rail line and the River Tame.

The pier was built in situ with a bespoke formwork designed specifically for the project, and with a fully prefabricated reinforcement cage, assembled in the rebar factory located near Coleshill.

The piers will support the deck, which will be built using an innovative construction method and bespoke machinery. The deck segments will be produced at HS2’s nearby outdoor purpose-built Kingsbury factory near Lea Marston. The factory is making a total of 2,742 segments for the entire Delta Junction, generating over 6km of post tensioned viaduct. The segments will be transported to site using haul roads to reduce HS2’s impacts on local roads.

To reduce environmental impacts, engineers have incorporated Ground Granulated Blast-furnace Slag (GGBS), a by-product of the steel manufacturing industry, into the structures as an eco-friendly concrete alternative to a traditional concrete mix, reducing carbon use by more than 60%.

After the piers are constructed, the viaduct spans will be built by raising each segment from a temporary suspension tower erected on top of each pier. When each span is complete, the suspension tower will be disassembled and moved further along the viaduct to build the next span.

An innovative ‘match-casting’ technique means that each viaduct segment is cast against the following segment in a production line, creating a seamless viaduct deck when installed. Each segment is uniquely precise and adjustable by as little as 5mm. This approach, where each segment is poured against the previous one, ensures the whole arch fits perfectly when assembled on site.

Once built, the area underneath the viaduct will be landscaped to provide a connected and accessible area with tree planting, new wildlife habitats, footpaths and cycle routes.

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