Express & Star

M6 closure: Photos show new bridge being installed at bottleneck junction

A "significant step" in the revamp of a congested junction is being taken this weekend when the beams for a new bridge are lifted into place.

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The new beam lifted into place at Junction 10

The £78-million makeover at Junction 10 of the M6 - linking the motorway with Wolverhampton and Walsall - will see the roundabout expanded to four lanes on new bridges that replace the existing 50-year-old structures.

Motorists have to leave the M6 at Junction 10 and rejoin the carriageway on the other side of the roundabout

A total of four 44-metre beams that make up the new northern bridge at the junction are being lifted into place this weekend, work that requires the motorway to be closed underneath and for traffic to be diverted 'up and over' the junction.

Aerial photos showing traffic queuing on the slip road. Photo: Paul Turner

Traffic will be stopped completely on four occasions over the weekend as each beam is lowered into place.

A total of four beams are being installed this weekend

Two beams were lowered into position on Saturday.

The four beams will hold the new northern bridge at the junction

Highways England had been warning drivers that the closure of the carriageway would lead to severe delays.

A total of four beams are being installed this weekend

That warning turned out to be correct with delays of two hours and queues of up to six miles reported on Saturday afternoon along the M6, while surrounding roads in Walsall and Wolverhampton were also congested as motorists tried to avoid the motorway.

The crane lifts one of the beams into place over Junction 10 of the M6. Photo: Paul Turner

They are being lifted into place by a 750-tonne crane, which is one of only four in the country strong enough to carry out the work as each beam weighs between 90 and 120 tonnes.

On Friday Highways England released a video of the crane heading along the M6 to Junction 10 in a convoy with other lorries.

The giant steel beams before they were moved onto the motorway. Photo: Highways England

Before the weekend work, Highways England’s project manager, Annie Hyett, said: ""We need to fully close the M6 because we’re using specialist machinery and it’s vital that we keep those doing the work and motorists safe.

"Once complete, the improvements to this junction will tackle the severe congestion that drivers, businesses and the local communities have been encountering for a long time.

The bridge beams in place over the M6. Photo: Paul Turner

"This is a busy junction and we would urge anyone travelling along the M6 over the weekend of August 6 to 9 to look at alternative routes if possible and to allow extra time for journeys if not.

"We are grateful to people for their patience while we carry out this significant construction work that will bring smoother, more reliable and safer journeys for road users.”

The bridge beams in place over the M6. Photo: Paul Turner

The beams for the south bridge will be lifted into place later in the year and will also require the M6 to be closed. The old bridges will be demolished later.

Highways England expects work on the new junction to be finished in 2022.