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Aerial close-up of the centre of the roundabout and M6 carriageways showing verge and central reservation piers taking shape.

Six motorway gantries which will house up-to-date technology to improve safety have been put up on a section of the M6 without the need for any road closures thanks to the contraflow system now in place.


The gantry is lifted into place in the overnight works on the M6 upgrade.
The gantry is lifted into place in the overnight works on the M6 upgrade.

In just seven days the gantries, which weigh between 13 and 32 tonnes each, were installed on the northbound carriageway between junctions 13 to 14 in Staffordshire as part of a motorway upgrade.

Seventeen miles of the M6 between junctions 13 (Stafford) and 15 (Stoke-on-Trent) are being upgraded and when the work is completed the gantries will house electronic signs to alert drivers to changes in the speed limit, lane closures and incidents ahead.

Thanks to the contraflow system in place - which runs for almost the length of the works - traffic was able to travel in that lane enabling workers to carry out the installations safely without having to shut the motorway. The contraflow system was introduced last year and will cut the length of time the roadworks will be running as well as reducing the number of motorway closures needed.

A major motorway upgrade will usually require up to 200 full motorway closures to complete construction work.  However, by using a contraflow, the number of full closures needed on this scheme has been reduced by up to half, benefiting local people and drivers. 

Drivers still go through the roadworks at the same speed but the contraflows create larger construction areas at the side of the motorway enabling more work to be safely carried out in one shift, speeding up the project. 
Contraflows allow more space for working to be created at the verge which means contractors can carry out bigger works, normally carried out overnight, during the day. 


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Highways England Smart Motorways Sponsor Peter Smith said:

When completed, the upgrade of this congested stretch of motorway will bring much more reliable journeys. These gantries and the enhanced technology will give drivers better information to help with their journeys through Staffordshire and beyond.

We always try to get roadworks carried out as quickly as possible and with minimum disruption to road users so we are delighted that the contraflow is helping us to achieve that.


Bird's eye view of Cheshire's £43 million M6 junction improvement

New aerial photographs of the M6 in Cheshire show how much progress Highways England has been making since it started a £43 million project at junction 19 near Knutsford to tackle congestion.


Aerial view of M6 junction 19 improvement project looking from southbound A556 Knutsford to Bowdon bypass and showing work at the roundabout underway and (right of picture) new construction compound between the A556 and M6.
Aerial view of M6 junction 19 improvement project looking from southbound A556 Knutsford to Bowdon bypass and showing work at the roundabout underway and (right of picture) new construction compound between the A556 and M6.

Work to install a new bridge through the existing roundabout and over the M6 to link sections of the A556, began in earnest in March. And the first aerial pictures of the work show how one of the most challenging construction projects in the region is literally taking shape – with the bridge foundations in the central reservation and carriageway verges being installed.


Aerial close-up of the centre of the roundabout and M6 carriageways showing verge and central reservation piers taking shape.
Aerial close-up of the centre of the roundabout and M6 carriageways showing verge and central reservation piers taking shape.

Highways England’s senior programme manager Kennedy Muzira said:

This new bridge through the roundabout and over the M6 will create a better flow of traffic between the motorway and the A556. This will speed up journeys and reduce congestion around the roundabout. There will also be improvements for pedestrians and cyclists.

The aerial photos show how much progress we’ve made in the last few weeks. We’d like to thank users of the motorway and the A556 for the patience they have shown while we have installed traffic management to enable us to get this complex construction project underway.

The new bridge is due to open next summer after a complex operation this winter to lift the bridge beams into place and construct the new deck over the M6.

While preparation work like establishing a construction compound occupied the first weeks of the project, permanent work such as installing piled foundations for the bridge piers is now underway.


As part of the project planning process a graphic was produced to illustrate the site’s tight working spaces.
As part of the project planning process a graphic was produced to illustrate the site’s tight working spaces.

The junction upgrade requires a large amount of heavy plant equipment at the site. The tight working spaces requires narrowed lanes and a 50mph speed limit which have recently been installed along a short section of the motorway under the roundabout to help create a safe working space for the construction workers.

All preparation and construction work will be done in accordance with the latest government guidelines related to the Covid 19 outbreak. All Highways England sites have strict safeguarding measures to prevent the spread of the virus and no sites are open to the public.

The improved M6 junction 19 will tie into the A556 Knutsford to Bowdon bypass which opened three years ago. It will also complement the smart motorways already completed or underway in the north Midlands and Cheshire.

Anyone seeking information about forthcoming traffic management arrangements can sign up for the project’s weekly traffic management bulletin - available from the project webpage. or by emailing the project team at [email protected]


Source: Highways England


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