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Tinsley Viaduct
M1 Junction 34, between Sheffield and Rotherham, South Yorkshire, UK
associated engineer
Freeman Fox & Partners
date  spring 1965 - 25th March 1968
UK era  Modern  |  category  Road Viaduct  |  reference  SK397909
The two-level Tinsley Viaduct carries the M1 motorway and a main road over the heavily developed Don Valley. It was the first steel structure in Britain to have road traffic on two levels. It is located in an area at risk from mining subsidence, with the most corrosive atmosphere in the country owing to a nearby chemical plant.
The viaduct crosses the Sheffield-Keadby Canal, the River Don and three railways. In plan, it follows an S curve to avoid power station cooling towers (demolished August 2008) and other industrial structures in the congested valley. Industry continued unabated throughout the construction period.
The 1,036m long viaduct has the six-lane M1 motorway on the top deck, with the four-lane A631 road and services (gas, electricity and water) on the lower deck.
The decks are of continuous composite construction. A prestressed reinforced concrete slab 215mm thick is supported by two main longitudinal steel box girders, with transverse cross girders and cantilevers at approximately 3m centres. The structural steel has an especially high anti-corrosion specification.
Each deck is anchored to the north abutments, and expansion along the length of the decks is taken up by Demag joints and roller bearings at the south abutments the range of movement can be more than 600mm. The top deck has automatic electric heating cables cast into the wearing surface, put there to combat ice formation caused by condensate from the erstwhile Tinsley power station cooling towers.
The viaduct has 20 simply supported spans up to 49.7m long, and two end spans 15 of the spans are curved. The spans over the Don Valley are carried on 17 pairs of high tensile steel box columns. Each has a rocker support to accommodate thermal movement and subsidence, with a jacking facility to rectify any settlement. The 17 piers and four abutments are of reinforced concrete, founded at depths of 4.6 to 9.1m.
Tinsley Viaduct contains some 12,700 tonnes of steel and 81,300 tonnes of concrete. The project cost around 4.6m. The lower deck was opened to traffic on 25th March 1968, and the upper deck later.
In November/December 1971, a design check revealed that the whole structure required strengthening to meet current safety standards (Merrison Report, September 1971). Two lanes of the lower deck were closed immediately.
On 15th August 1973, a man was killed when his lorry crashed through the outer barriers of the upper deck and fell 36.6m onto waste ground below.
Strengthening work included steel trusses from the pier foundations to the cross girders of the upper deck, and steel links between the strut heads and cross girders of the lower deck. Once the work was completed, the viaduct reopened to traffic on both decks in 1980.
However, by 2002 the viaduct required further strengthening to comply with European directives. Work began in July 2002, and was certified as complete on 27th February 2006. The cost was around 82.7m.
Main Contractor: Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Co
Stengthening engineering (2002-6): Owen Williams
Research: ECPK

Tinsley Viaduct