Motts’ HS2 viaducts slimmed down to appease environmental concerns

Posted on 27 January 2021

​Architects and engineers from Mott MacDonald, Systra and Weston Williamson + Partners have revised their designs for High Speed 2’s Water Orton viaducts to address environmental concerns. The viaducts will be constructed near the village of Water Orton in Warwickshire by main works civils contractor BBV (Balfour Beatty Vinci). The revised designs have been drawn up to address concerns raised during the public consultation stage about the impact the structures will have on wildlife habitats. Consequently, the viaducts have been redesigned to have slim support piers “to enhance their design and reduce shading of the areas over which the railway will pass”. The revised designs also include new landscaped areas that will provide green public spaces and wildlife habitats, as well as a pathway for walking and cycling.

Subject to local interest, there is also scope to include a community orchard or area of allotments. The section of the HS2 route where the two Water Orton viaducts are located is known as the Delta Junction, a triangular section of line where the new railway curves west towards Birmingham and runs north towards Crewe and beyond. The Water Orton viaducts link the curve that heads west towards Birmingham with the main line heading north, and are needed in this location to carry the railway across a network of existing motorways, roads and footpaths.

Weston Williamson + Partners associate partner Nick McGough said: “Our approach at Water Orton has been to design structures which are in constant dialogue with the landscape, in parts screened and concealed by vegetation and elsewhere emerging into clearings, creating bold and dramatic views.

“The team has worked hard to elegantly sculpt these viaducts into the most narrow and slender structures possible, with large spans which reduce the number of piers. This minimises the locations where the structure touches the ground, improves the sustainability performance of the viaducts, and also creates opportunities for new green spaces and community amenities.” HS2 design director Kay Hughes added: “HS2 will not only provide a greener way to travel for people, it also provides an opportunity for us to enhance the natural environment in many areas along the route through our landscape design.

“We are committed to bringing out the character of the landscape to create areas where people can connect to their local environment and enjoy nature.”

BBV have also revealed plans to minimise construction impacts in the area. This includes creating HS2 haul roads for transporting material to avoid the need to use local roads, and construction work on the site will also be kept to a minimum by manufacturing the segments of the viaducts in a factory outside the area. BBV have also committed to using up to 60% sustainable alternatives to cement in the construction of the structures.

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