What goes up must come down, and Merafield Bridge on the A38 met a dramatic end in May while overlooked by a new bridge crossing containing some 400 tonnes of structural steel.


The new crossing is 80 metres in length and 11.3 metres wide, containing 401 tonnes of structural steel and 2,503 tonnes of concrete.


It replaces the old adjacent bridge, which was causing concern due to suffering from ‘concrete cancer’, an alkali silica reaction that can weaken the concrete part of the structure over time.


Over a weekend in mid-May, the old bridge was first blown up, and then any remaining larger sections were broken down and taken away, leaving only the new bridge standing a short distance away.


Andrew Page-Dove, south-west regional director for Highways England, said: “This was a big project that needed extensive planning to ensure traffic around Plymouth was kept flowing smoothly and the vital A38 transport link between Devon, Plymouth and south-east Cornwall was maintained.”


To avoid unnecessary disruption, the work was scheduled for the quieter part of the month – and avoided the busy bank holiday weekend when staycationers would have flocked into the local area.


Some work still needs to be done, including clearing away the last of the debris, finishing drainage works on Merafield Road, putting the road markings back on the A38 and completing the last of the work on the new bridge.


With its sturdy reinforced concrete structure and road deck supported by steel beams, the new crossing is part of £6.3 million of maintenance work on the A38.


And testament to the strength of the steel beams in the old bridge is the fact that 278 different positions on the bridge had to be drilled and filled with explosives – 50kg in total – to bring it to the ground.