M5 roadworks upheaval with repairs switched to opposite carriageway
Drivers have been warned to prepare for disruption on the M5 as a major roadworks project switches to the opposite carriageway.
The huge job to repair the crumbling Oldbury viaduct has been ongoing for nearly two years but from Monday work will begin moving onto the northbound side of the motorway.
It was recently revealed the work had been delayed by six months due to the hot summer.
Traffic has been filed into two narrow lanes running in both directions since the work started.
Combined with a 30mph speed limit for safety reasons, the work between Junctions 1 and 2, between West Bromwich and Oldbury, has resulted with major traffic delays.
The £100 million project to repair the viaduct is thought to be the largest motorway project ever done in the UK.
More than 400 miles of scaffolding have been put up, enough scaffold boards to cover seven football pitches and enough scaffold staircases to reach the top of Ben Nevis and Snowdon.
The process of switching the work to the other side of the motorway will take around a week and take place gradually overnight.
Two lanes will remain open in each direction but motorists have been warned there is a potential for traffic build-ups as drivers get used to the new layout.
Slip roads at junctions 1 and 2 will remain open once the switch is completed.
A delay on the completion of the work was blamed on the hot weather.
The project, which started in April 2017, is now likely to finish 'as soon as possible' in 2019.
Highways England head of service delivery, Andrew Butterfield, said: “We’re fast approaching completion of work on the southbound carriageway and the switch to the northbound carriageway will mean a new road layout.
"I would urge motorists to familiarise themselves with the layout and to leave extra time for their journeys as people get used to it.
“I appreciate it’s not been straightforward getting to this stage.
"We were only able to fully assess the condition of the southbound carriageway once the work had started and found around 6,000 individual repairs were needed, which is 4,500 more than anticipated.
"To add to the challenges, we had one of the harshest winters, followed by warmest summers in years.
“As a result, work on this section has taken longer than expected, but we’re committing every resource available to get this work done as safely and quickly as possible.
“We understand the level of disruption this project involves, and we’d like to thank motorists, businesses and residents for their patience.”