Concrete blocks build towards Smart Motorway milestone

 

A new 20-mile long concrete safety barrier on the M6 in Cheshire is nearing completion as part of a £274m project to upgrade the route to an all lane running Smart Motorway.

The scheme between junctions 16 and 19 will see the hard shoulder converted to an extra lane with variable speed limits and other technology helping to keep traffic flowing.

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An excavator with giant claws lifts the blocks into place

Using giant claws on an excavator, around 5,000 concrete blocks have been lifted into place to create the new safety barrier in the central reservation. Each block is six metres long and weighs around four tonnes.

Highways England’s contractors have already completed the stretch of new barrier between junctions 17 and 19 and are now working on the hard shoulder.

The Government-owned company said the remaining section of barrier between junctions 16 and 17 is due to be finished in the next few weeks.

Mike Bull, Highways England’s senior smart motorway manager for the North, said: ‘The Smart Motorway upgrade on the M6 is one of the biggest construction projects currently taking place in the North, and I’m pleased we’re now reaching a major milestone with the new safety barrier.

‘When the smart motorway goes live, the 118,000 drivers who use the route every day will benefit from an extra lane in each direction – increasing capacity by a third.'

Work has also been taking place to install foundations for overhead gantries, improve drainage, repair bridges and carry out resurfacing.

When the scheme is complete, 258 electronic signs will be used to alert drivers to speed limit changes, lane closures and incidents ahead.

A total of 70 CCTV cameras will also be installed to provide 100% coverage of the route and 18 emergency refuge areas will be built.

The Cheshire smart motorway project is due to be completed by the end of March 2019.

 

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