Bridge openings not too far away now as essential maintenance work completed
The first of three bridges closed on the M50 for essential maintenance has now fully reopened – with the other two set to follow within weeks.
Traffic is now able to flow on the Queens Arms bridge with Bury Court due to fully re-open this week and Pendock to follow swiftly behind. The M50 will be cleared and return to two lanes by mid-August.
The closures were necessary to carry out important concrete repairs underneath the bridges and maintenance work which will increase their life expectancy.
Ensuring traffic was still able to use the M50 and keeping one lane open on the bridges where possible – while also keeping the 605 workers safe – meant some challenging working conditions for the project team and contractor Kier.
They have been working in encased tunnels over the motorway, unseen by the drivers travelling below, as they forged ahead with the repairs in the cramped space available. Around 210 tons of scaffolding was needed for the work to be carried out on the bridges which were built in the 1950s.
While two of the overbridges were able to keep one lane open with temporary traffic lights, the work on Queens Arms was more extensive so it has been fully closed. One lane was opened in December and the bridge fully reopened last Monday (13 July).
The M50 was reduced to one lane in both directions between junctions 1 and 2, near Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire, to ensure the safety of workers and road users as the work was carried out above.
Highways England Programme Delivery Manager, Jess Kenny, said:
“These important repairs will not only protect the bridges for many years to come on this key route linking England and Wales but also reduce the need for future maintenance works.
“The works have been challenging as we worked both on top and below all three bridges while minimising the impact on traffic. We appreciate that roadworks can cause disruption and so worked on all three bridges simultaneously to get the job done as quickly as possible.
“We have also tried to undertake as many routine works as possible while the lane has been closed on the M50 to minimise disruption for road users and communities. We are grateful for people’s patience while this essential work has been carried out.”
As the final work takes place on the remaining two bridges there will need to be some overnight and weekend closures over the next few weeks.
All lanes on the M50 will then open although during the scheme Highways England has taken the opportunity to carry out other maintenance work such as replacing the safety barrier and grass cutting, avoiding the need for additional lane closures.
Final works include resurfacing and waterproofing the bridges, installing new kerbs, safety barriers, road markings and studs.
To carry out this work safely, Bury Court bridge will be closed overnight this week, from 8pm to 6am, with the bridge fully open on Friday morning (24 July).
As work concludes on Pendock bridge, there will be overnight closures from Monday 27 July to Thursday 30 July, from 8pm to 6am. The bridge will be fully closed from 8pm on Friday 31 July to 6am on Monday 3 August and overnight from Monday 3 August to Thursday 6 August. It will fully reopen on Friday 7 August.
Diversion routes, agreed with the local authorities, will be clearly signposted.
Some overnight closures will also be required on the M50 which is set to be fully open by 22 August.
Other work also being carried out includes replacing the safety barrier between junctions 4 and 3 on the eastbound carriageway. Grass cutting will take place between junctions 1 and 4 in both directions and a number of diseased ash trees will be removed in conjunction with Forestry England.
For live traffic updates follow the @HighwaysEMIDS Twitter feed. The Highways England 24/7 customer contact centre team can also provide up-to-the minute information on 0300 123 5000.
Complying with COVID19 safety measures has slowed down some of the work on the project but it has safely continued throughout the lockdown.
All Highways England sites have strict safeguarding measures to prevent the spread of COVID19 and none are open to the public. All major construction projects are closely monitored and the situation is kept under constant review.