A one hundred tonne bridge that spanned a Northumberland country road is on its way to a new home after being lifted out of place by a large crane.
Banks Mining, part of The Banks Group, has been making preparations since mid-May to remove and recycle the 32m bridge which sits above the link road between its Brenkley Lane surface mine near Dinnington on the Newcastle/Northumberland border and the site compound on the other side of the C357.
The family-owned firm commissioned Northumberland County Council’s construction team to work on the removal, which included the building of a temporary road alongside the C357 to allow traffic to continue using the route while the work is being done.
The bridge itself, which was situated between the Milkhope Centre and the Horton Grange Hotel, will shortly be checked and galvanised by previous owners Mabey Hire Services before being reused on another project elsewhere in the country.
Work to reopen the main road as well as on other aspects of the project, which has included the creation of a temporary footpath around the bridge area and the redirection of the site’s utilities, is expected to be complete before the end of the summer.
Banks Mining began working the Brenkley Lane site in 2010 and completed mineral extraction nine years later.
Since then, it has been undertaking a comprehensive programme of landscaping and restoration work, which has included the planting of almost 9,800 trees and over 8.3 kilometres of new hedgerow as well as the creation and improvement of dozens of new wildlife habitats.
Grants totalling more than £250,000 have also been awarded from the Brenkley Lane community fund to a wide range of local community groups in Newcastle City Council’s Castle Ward and Northumberland County Council’s Ponteland East Ward as part of Banks’ commitment to provide positive, tangible long-term benefits from its operations.
Jeannie Raine, community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “Despite challenging weather conditions at times, our preparations for removing the bridge have gone well and seeing such a sizeable structure lifted into the air was quite a sight to see.
“The bridge served our operations well for more than a decade, enabling large vehicles to move freely between the site and the compound without disrupting other local traffic, and it’s great to know that it will be recycled and reused elsewhere.
“Northumberland County Council’s expert construction team have done an excellent job on the project and we’ll continue working with them to complete operations as quickly as we can.
“The final stages of activity at and around our surface mines are planned in just as much detail as the preparatory and coal extraction stages, and the removal of the bridge is a real landmark in their execution at Brenkley Lane.
“Landscaping work around the whole of the site has gone extremely well and we’re very proud of our unrivalled track record of restoring every single one of the 113 surface mines we’ve worked over the last four decades.”