Strong winds today (Sunday, January 15) hampered an operation to dismantle the old Brook Lane bridge over the railway line in Newton .
The bridge is past its sell-by-date but also too low for railway electrification using overhead wires as opposed to the third rail system currently in place.
Network Rail had intended to dismantle the old bridge by lifting the cross beams out one-by-one using a giant mobile crane.
However, strong winds meant it was not possible to use the crane. Instead diggers, with chains fitted to the hydraulic arms, were used to lift out the horizontal sections.
This was after the beams had been separated from the framework using jackhammers attached to the diggers and cut from underneath by men on cherry pickers using oxyacetylene cutting gear.
It was still hoped the substantial edge beams, weighing 30 tons each, could be lifted by the giant crane once the wind had died down by around 6pm.
The intention was these beams would be placed onto the road to be retrieved later. This meant the crane would not have to lift at height given the strength of the wind.
This afternoon a small crowd had gathered to watch the spectacle from the adjacent footbridge that carries the footpath and cycleway.
It is hoped the concrete cill, on which the new bridge will sit, can still be installed in the next few hours ready for the new bridge to be lifted into place next weekend.
The railway line has been closed all day in the Wirral and Liverpool direction. A rail replacement bus service is in operation.
Everyone who lives and works in Chester is affected by the bridge replacement operation which spans several months and has caused traffic disruption because of the necessary closure of an important cross-city route.
The first phase closure took place between September 19 and early November, causing gridlock in Chester at peak times as the site was prepared.
And the second phase, which began on January 3, is scheduled to last until May 8.
Network Rail Project manager Martin Bell said: “This work is part of our Railway Upgrade Plan which will provide a better and more reliable railway for Britain. We recognise the work to install this new bridge will cause some disruption and thank people in advance for their patience.
“The bridge is coming to the end of its useful, safe life and to ensure the railway and road bridge continue to be safe and reliable, we have to replace it.”