Precast concrete barriers help Midlands safety scheme open early

13/11/2023
Chris Ames

Safety improvements at the M40/M42 interchange in the West Midlands are due to be completed several months earlier than planned, National Highways has said.

The scheme has seen around five-and-a-half miles of steel central reservation barrier replaced with concrete, new drainage installed and lighting replaced.

The works were previously part of a scheme to convert the motorway to an all lane running (ALR) smart motorway.

When ministers scrapped new ALR schemes in April, National Highways committed to installing the concrete barriers that would have been part of the conversion.

The government-owned company says concrete barriers significantly reduce the risk of vehicles crossing over from one carriageway to another.

The revised M40/M42 interchange scheme was originally due to be completed next spring, but the majority of daytime traffic management will be removed by the end of this week, with overnight restrictions in place until the scheme completes in time for the Christmas getaway.

National Highways said the early finish is down to several factors including identifying an innovative new precast concrete barrier that can be laid faster than other types.

Contractors bmJV worked with supplier Hardstaff Barriers to develop the product for this project, which has a different foundation design that allows a quicker installation process and eliminates some of the time-consuming post-installation operations required for other barriers.

The new barrier in the central reservation of the M42 between junctions 3a and 4

Contractors also found that the existing drainage in the central reservation required less upgrade work than was originally thought and the project team worked with other road schemes in the area and local authorities to plan closures and diversions without delaying each other’s works.

Project sponsor Nick Wells said: ‘All these factors have combined for the good of the road user at this busy gateway to the West Midlands. It’s been a great collaborative piece of work and we are delighted to be completing these improvements so far ahead of schedule.

‘Road users will soon benefit from the range of measures implemented on this scheme, which is part of a wider programme of work to further enhance safety on existing dynamic hard shoulder motorways.’

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