Work to install a 65-metre bridge, spanning the width of the M42, was completed in just two days and ahead of schedule as the motorway reopened to road users on August 9, 22 hours earlier than planned. The works near Interchange Station move Solihull a step closer to the arrival of HS2, Britain’s new low carbon high speed railway.
In an engineering feat led by specialist engineering contractor, Expanded and HS2 enabling works contractor, LMJV (Laing O’Rourke and J. Murphy & Sons Joint Venture), the 2,750-tonne bridge structure was carried along the motorway on a self-propelled modular transporter.
The 448-wheel transporter took just one hour and 45 minutes to move the bridge span 150 metres, where it was fixed to a composite concrete deck to complete the overall bridge structure. Traditional construction methods would have required several weeks of lane closures on both carriageways, followed by additional weekend and overnight closures.
HS2 CEO Mark Thurston, was joined by Andy Street, West Midlands Mayor, to see the bridge being moved into place.
Mark said: “This new road bridge is the first permanent structure to be installed along the route of Britain’s new railway. Today represents an important milestone for the project and the West Midlands region.
“Constructing the bridge off site and using innovative engineering practices to install it over the motorway enabled us to carry out the work in just two days, keeping disruption to a minimum for road users”.
The successful installation marks the completion of the first of four bridges to be built close to the new Interchange Station. It will form part of the major remodelling of the regional road network to improve the circulation of traffic around the HS2 railway line and connect the existing road network to the new Interchange Station.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands said:“Seeing major construction activity like this in Solihull is hugely encouraging as it shows HS2 is now truly underway. In just a few years, the HS2 station at Interchange and further investments in public transport will help make Solihull one of the best connected places in the UK.
“Today’s work also comes at a critical time for the West Midlands, as we look to bounce back economically from the coronavirus crisis. Major infrastructure projects like HS2 have a critical role to play as they help stimulate demand and create and secure local jobs for local people”.
Once complete HS2 will bring the West Midlands within an hour’s commute of Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, York and London, making it one of the most connected parts in the country. HS2 is already transforming the region, spearheading regeneration and economic investment in Birmingham and surrounding towns, including Solihull. HS2’s Interchange station is at the heart of the UK Central Hub growth area which will create 70,000 new and safeguarded jobs, up to 5,000 new homes and 650,000 square metres of commercial space.
Companies from the Midlands and the North played a leading role in the construction of the deck components and supply of the 1,130 tonnes of steel plate girders and 1,610 tonnes of precast and insitu concrete.