A public exhibition in Bradley Stoke later this week will provide more information about a major motorway upgrade scheme that is about to commence on the M4 and M5 near the Almondsbury Interchange.
The £88.6m managed motorway scheme – the first of its kind in the South West – will involve the use of variable mandatory speed limits and use of the hard shoulder as an extra traffic lane to ease congestion.
The scheme will be implemented on the M4 between the top of the M32 and the Almondsbury Interchange and on the M5 between Cribbs Causeway and the Almondsbury Interchange.
Contractor Balfour Beatty is due to begin mobilisation works next Monday (7th November), which will include the installation of traffic management and site clearance. The hard shoulder will be closed along sections between junction 19 and 20 on the M4 and junctions 15 to 19 on the M5, with three lanes open in both directions. A 50mph speed limit, enforced with average speed safety cameras, will also be in place for the safety of road users and the workforce.
It is expected that construction work will start in full between January and March 2012 (subject to a statutory process being completed), with work due for completion in 2013-14.
The exhibition takes place on Friday 4th November, from 2pm to 8pm, at the Baileys Court Activity Centre, Baileys Court Road [map].
Visitors to the exhibition will be able to find out more about what the works will involve, the steps being taken to minimise disruption during construction, and how the finished scheme will lead to safer and more reliable journeys. Staff from the Highways Agency and contractor Balfour Beatty will also be on hand to answer questions.
When announced by Geoff Hoon, the then Secretary of State for Transport, in 2009, the M4/M5 scheme was set to be started in Spring 2010 and be fully operational in 2012. Those dates have since slipped by almost two years.
Speaking after the recent announcement of the awarding of the contract to Balfour Beatty, current Roads Minister Mike Penning said:
“This £88.6 million investment shows the Government is delivering on its promise to invest in transport schemes that reduce congestion, improve safety, and support economic growth. At the height of construction hundreds of people will be working on this project that will provide much needed additional capacity for more than 140,000 road users who use these motorways every day.”
“Our experience shows that managed motorways deliver significant safety and journey time benefits. That’s why the Government has committed to start work on eleven managed motorway schemes by 2015, including the M4/M5, while the Highways Agency is ensuring value for money and making excellent progress against its commitment to reduce the cost of major capital projects by 20 per cent across the roads programme.”
Construction work on the M4 will begin in January 2012 and is expected to last for about a year. Work on the M5 will start after Easter 2012 and is also likely to take a whole year, meaning that traffic management measures will be in place on both motorways over the busy 2012 summer holiday period.
Balfour Beatty say they will use an advanced “quick movable barrier system” to implement overnight lane closures, ensuring that a full set of lanes remains in use during peak hours.
Work required to implement the scheme includes strengthening the hard shoulder, building emergency refuge areas and installing sensors in the road to measure traffic levels and speeds. Additional CCTV cameras will also be installed to monitor the motorways and emergency refuge areas.
Complete overnight closures of the two motorways will be necessary to install 33 new ‘super span’ gantries (21 on the M5, 12 on the M4). The massive gantries will be assembled and wired-up at a building on the Aztec West Business Park, which will also house the project office for the construction team.
Once completed, the scheme will be managed from the Highway Agency’s South West Regional Control Centre in Avonmouth. Opening of the hard shoulder lanes to traffic will be triggered dynamically by traffic levels and it is anticipated that this will happen between around 7am and 10am in the morning rush hour and between 4pm and 6pm in the afternoon.
For those unable to attend on Friday, the exhibition is being repeated at the Coniston Community Centre in Patchway on Saturday 5th November, between 10am and 4pm.
More info: M4 J19-20 and M5 J15-17 Managed Motorways (Highways Agency)
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