Civil and geotechnical specialists Maccaferri is to construct a network of reinforced-soil retaining walls as part of the upgrading of strategic A8 route upgrade in Northern Ireland.
The A8 is one of the five key transport corridors identified in the regional development strategy and the regional transportation strategy for Northern Ireland.
The Department for Regional Development intends to undertake improvement works that will involve the realignment and upgrading the dual two-lane all-purpose (D2AP) carriageway of the A8, between Coleman’s Corner and Ballyrickard Road, at a construction cost of £105m. The new route includes the bypass of Bruslee and Ballynure villages.
This upgrade of approximately 14.5km of the A8 between Belfast and Larne, as a partially on-line partially off-line high-quality dual carriageway with associated hard strips, will incorporate a number of grade-separated junctions and the provision of a central median safety barrier.
Construction works commenced on site in August 2012, with the expected completion scheduled for March 2015.
Oxford-based Maccaferri Construction will build a network of 16 reinforced-soil retaining walls, which form abutments and wing walls to eight new structures to be constructed as part of the new works.
The walls will be constructed using Maccaferri’s own MacRes system of large, concrete-facing panels, installed in conjunction with high-strength Paraweb geosynthetic reinforcement, manufactured by Linear Composites, also a Maccaferri subsidiary. The MacRes / Paraweb reinforced soil structure is a system extensively used outside the UK with over 500,000m² of walls completed worldwide.
On UK mainland, the system was recently used in the A13 upgrade, Sadlers Farm interchange near Basildon, Essex and its use in the construction of the A8 Belfast to Larne dualling scheme will be a first in Ireland.
The design and construction of the A8 Belfast to Larne dualling project is being undertaken for Department for Regional Development (Northern Ireland) Roads Service by JV Contractors Lagan / Ferrovial / Costain (LFC). LFC was particularly keen to work with Maccaferri Construction as Maccaferri provides a fully indemnified, combined design and construct package, a service that is not readily available for reinforced soil, concrete panel structures on Ireland or in the UK.
Construction of the reinforced soil bridge abutments / wing walls started in April and is due for completion in early 2014.