Two ‘superspan gantries’ have been installed over the M6 motorway in Staffordshire in less than ten hours.
The 38-tonne gantries – which at 40 metres long stretch across the entire width of the motorway – were installed between junction 15 (Stoke-on-Trent) and junction 14 (Stafford North) overnight between Saturday and Sunday.
The motorway was closed from 9pm on Saturday night while the work took place.
Highways England Smart Motorway Project Sponsor, Peter Smith, said: “This is the first time we have attempted to install two superspan gantries in one night on this scheme and it was quite a challenge to get them both put in place and the M6 open by 8am.
“Thanks to careful planning and the efforts of the team on the night, everything went smoothly and we were able to get the motorway open shortly after 6am to minimise disruption for motorists.
“We appreciate that our work to upgrade this stretch of the M6 can cause some disruption and we are always grateful for people’s patience while we carry out such major works which will ultimately mean better and more reliable journeys for road users.”
The gantries were built off site and transported to the motorway on trailers – treated as an abnormal load.
They were then lowered onto pre-constructed foundations and posts using a specialist 160-tonne crane.
Highways England say this method is quicker and less disruptive than constructing gantries at the side of the motorway.
The agency says the gantries will house the latest technology to monitor traffic.
A Highways England spokesman said: “Signs and signals will be fitted to the gantries which will set variable speed limits to help traffic flow more smoothly, close lanes when necessary and provide travel information for drivers.
“While the motorway was shut for the installations a series of other works were also carried out to reduce the need for further closures. These included installing signage, technology ducting and cables, drainage, clearing vegetation and undertaking further surveys.
“A 17-mile stretch of the M6 is being upgraded into a smart motorway between junctions 13 (Stafford) and 15 (Stoke-on-Trent). The superspan gantries are the largest structures that have to be installed as part of the scheme.”