Key milestone as new bridge beams lifted into place

A multi-million pound project to build a much-needed link road in Bridgwater reached a key milestone today with the lifting of the beams for a new 52-metre steel bridge.

The Somerset Bridge will carry the new Colley Lane Southern Access Road over the River Parrett and will be the longest single-span bridge in Somerset – and one of the longest in the south west.

Somerset County Council’s contractor Whitemountain used a 1,250-tonne mobile crane with a 63m boom to lift three braced pairs of beams into place.

Each pair of beams measured 52m long, 2.2m deep and 3.8m wide with the heaviest weighing in at a whopping 156 tonnes.

The beams were fabricated off-site but each pair needed to be taken apart for transportation by road in three separate loads – with 9 loads in total. The beams were then reassembled into their curved shape at the Colley Lane site with much of the work done in advance to limit the need for working over water now the beams are in place.

Councillor John Woodman, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “This scheme is so important for Bridgwater and it was great to see the bridge beams being lifted into place because it is a visual reminder of the fantastic progress being made on site.

“Lifting a bridge into place is always an extremely complex operation but it’s testament to the skills and expertise of all those involved that they made it all look so simple.

“This is a very exciting engineering project with lots of innovative work taking place and we look forward to seeing the new road open next year.”

Gareth McNern, Project Manager from Whitemountain stated, “Since mobilisation began in April, we have worked diligently as a team to accomplish key milestones in advance of today’s bridge installation. Today’s works are a result of months of meticulous planning, overcoming many technical and logistical challenges and over 45,000 work hours by our project team to ensure successful delivery. We are very pleased to be delivering such a prestigious project for Somerset County Council and for the important benefits it will bring to the Bridgwater community.”

The £18.4m Colley Lane Southern Access Road (CLSAR) plans include two new bridges, 840 metres of carriageway and new cycle and footways.

The scheme will help ease congestion along Taunton Road and Broadway by connecting Parrett Way to Marsh Lane and providing access to the Colley Lane Industrial Estate from the south. It will also open up brownfield development sites between the River Parrett and the Taunton and Bridgwater Canal.

The project will use innovative engineering solutions to overcome some of the challenges on site, such as poor ground conditions between the canal and river.

To minimise loading in this area, high density polystyrene blocks will be used as a lightweight alternative to conventional quarry materials. This has an additional benefit by reducing the number of vehicle movements to site by 90 per cent – saving around 500 truck deliveries.

Stay up to date with the latest progress reports and photographs at or follow @TravelSomerset on Twitter for scheme updates.

  • The £18.4m Colley Lane scheme is funded by EDF S106 contributions, housing developer S106 contributions, the DfT Productivity Investment Fund and Somerset County Council’s capital programme.