An important road that connects a major development in the South West to the A39, M5 and wider UK motorway network has been shortlisted for an Institution of Civil Engineering (ICE) South West Civil Engineering Award. The Gravity Link Road joins the Gravity Smart Campus to the UK motorway network, enhancing the connectivity of the site as an enterprise zone, providing a safe and expedient route for traffic destined for the 616-acre site.
The link road project team includes This Is Gravity, Stantec as lead designer, project manager and site supervisor, The Richards Partnership as landscape architect, and Griffiths as contractor. The project consisted of a 1.6km single carriageway, two roundabouts, a Green Bridge, on-site cut-fill balance, four attenuation/infiltration basins, visual screening/acoustic bund, the provision of enhanced right of way, and circa 5,000 proposed trees. The road was officially opened in October 2021 and has been named as ‘Enterprise Way’.
Various link road alignment options had been considered and appraised, focusing on carbon footprint, visual, social, ecological, archaeological, traffic impacts, safety, flooding, and cost. The completed project is an example of one that shows a commitment to sustainability, climate resilience and carbon reduction.
Features include material re-use from both the nearby M5 J25 works and the Gravity main site, with no material being exported. Recycled plastic crates were used to construct an attenuation tank. Solar-powered lighting was installed for permanent road signage and solar-powered bollards – removing the need for cables, and trenching.
The scheme fully incorporated blue/green infrastructure through the four attenuation/infiltration basins on site, promoting sustainable management of water, and all basins incorporated soft landscaping to provide significant biodiversity gain. The Green Bridge is the first to be installed in Somerset and provides a bridleway over the new link road and linking communities to the wider public rights of way. The acoustic/visual screening bund consists of a 900m long green retaining wall, which shields nearby residents to visual and noise impacts as well as complimenting the rural aesthetic. Regular air quality and noise monitoring at the local primary school has helped to ensure construction did not adversely affect the local environment. The landscaping will result in over 5000 trees being planted, 2,600m of hedgerows and 5.68Ha of meadow grassland providing both biodiversity gain and carbon sequestration.
The opening of the road has removed through traffic from the village of Puriton, creating a safer village, a more pleasant public environment, and improving air quality. The engagement carried out prior to, and through construction, ensured the local community was continually updated on progress.
For Gravity Smart Campus, the benefits of the link road will be significant in attracting large-scale innovative companies and creating an environment to host an international occupier to help the UK decarbonise the transport sector. New occupiers have the flexibility to operate within the consented development of to 1.1million sq. m, creating up to 7,500 jobs.
Richard Smith, Senior Associate, at Stantec, said: “We’re thrilled that Gravity Link Road has been shortlisted for this award. The link road is a brilliant example of collaboration between the partners, and the local community, to keep their welfare and the environment in mind at every stage of design and construction.”
Claire Pearce, Director, Planning & Economic Development, at This Is Gravity Ltd, said: “Gravity set out our ambition to deliver the link road and ensure strategic connectivity between the enterprise zone site and the A39/ M5 to accelerate a new era of clean and inclusive growth in the UK, at the heart of the South West. We are grateful to partners and stakeholders in the Gravity delivery group for their support to completing the road as an integral part of our transport strategy”.
Paul Lowndes, Programme Director at This is Gravity added: “The Link Road construction epitomizes Gravity’s commitment to ‘the 4Rs – Recover, Recycle, Repurpose, Reuse’ with use of 6c material crushed from concrete in the free-draining sub-base and re-use of naturally occurring subsoil material in the acoustic/visual screening bund, all won from the site remediation and delivered free of charge to Griffiths. I would like to extend our thanks to the Stantec, Griffiths and Richards Partnership as the Gravity link road team for an exceptional job in the engineering design, and delivery phases.”
Simon Dunn, Pre-Construction Director at Griffiths, said: “Griffiths is proud to be part of the Gravity project, a project that showcases what can be achieved through true collaboration. From Day 1 the vision was clear, that sustainability and communities were at the heart of the project and the team worked hard to exceed all expectations. This is a blueprint for what collaboration can achieve in terms of enhancing our environment for future generations.” The winners of the ICE South West Civil Engineering Awards 2022 will be announced at a ceremony on 15 September. Members and non-members of the ICE can choose their favourite project in the People’s Choice Awards – vote here
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Alicia de Haldevang, Stantec Media Relations Alicia.firstname.lastname@example.org