M6 set for giant gantry as part of smart motorway
A giant 40-metre-wide structure will be lifted into place over the M6 next week to help improve the journeys of the 118,000 drivers who use the route every day.
The huge 20-tonne gantry will span the width of the motorway between junctions 18 for Middlewich and 19 for Knutsford, holding 10 large electronic signs.
It is the biggest single structure being installed as part of a £274 million upgrade of a 20-mile stretch of the M6 to a smart motorway.
The Highways England scheme between junction 16 and 19 involves converting the hard shoulder to a permanent extra lane and introducing new variable speed limits.
Arun Sahni, project manager at Highways England, said: “This is a major milestone for the project and a lot of planning and preparation work has been carried out to make sure the gantry can be lifted into place as quickly and safely as possible.
“The superspan gantry is one of a series of structures we’re installing along the smart motorway route to hold over 250 electronic signs that will provide drivers with live information about their journeys, and help to improve journey times by tackling stop-start conditions caused by sudden braking.
“We’d like to thank drivers for their patience while this work takes place.
“We’re on schedule to complete the smart motorway upgrade by spring next year and are doing everything we can to minimise disruption, including keeping all of the lanes open in both directions during the day.”
Superspan gantries are constructed off-site using a series of symmetrical steel bars, and are becoming a familiar site on motorways across England.
The gantry will be lifted into place overnight on Wednesday, June 27, with a crane lowering it onto two pillars which have already been installed.
The southbound carriageway on the M6 will be closed between junctions 19 and 18 on Wednesday, June 27 from 10pm to 6am to bring the crane onto the motorway for the gantry lift.
Police will hold traffic on the northbound carriageway for several minutes during the lift.
Around 500 people are currently working on the smart motorway project.
When the scheme is complete, 258 electronic signs will be used to alert drivers to changes in the speed limit, lane closures and incidents.
A total of 70 CCTV cameras will also be installed, and 18 emergency areas built.