After months of jockeying for position with train operators and the council, runners and riders from Network Rail and Taziker Industrial Coatings are under starter’s orders, and the race is on to complete a viaduct refurbishment by the summer.
The off is expected this week and they’ll be cantering towards a finish in July.
Roodee Viaduct crosses the River Dee west of Chester station, between the racecourse and golf club, and carries the main railway line between England and North Wales
Chris Chatfield, Network Rail’s scheme project manager, said: “We are confining the work to times when the railway is going to be closed for other work so we don’t disrupt train services. This means we will mainly be working at weekends and occasionally overnight. Although the work is straightforward, this means it is going to take six months to complete.”
Contractors will be working from scaffolding suspended beneath the decks of the viaduct, which was built wide enough for four tracks but now only carries two.
They will grit blast the structure to take it back to bare metal and carry out repairs and strengthening where necessary. It will then have a protective coating applied to it before being repainted in its original grey colour.
The £1.5m project has been carefully planned to meet standards set by Cheshire West & Chester Council and the Environment Agency.
One of these is to encapsulate the work area in an environmental wrap to prevent the grit blasting process contaminating the land or river below the viaduct.
As a consequence of the encapsulation, a footbridge which belongs to the council but is attached to the side of the railway viaduct is also closing because it has to be included in the wrap.
Negotiations are underway between the council and Network Rail over the possible refurbishment of the footbridge, which could be completed while the viaduct work is being carried out.