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Highways England on track with smart motorway upgrade near Cheshire

First publishedin World Highways
July August 2018
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A 20tonne gantry – the biggest single structure under a major motorway upgrade in England - has been hoisted into place in Cheshire county.


The 40m-wide gantry spanning the width of the entire M6 motorway is to help improve the journeys of the 118,000 drivers who use the route daily. It holds 10 electronic signs as part of the €309 million upgrade of a 32km stretch of the M6 to smart motorway standard.

The Highways England scheme near the town of Knutsford involves converting the hard shoulder to a permanent extra lane and introducing variable speed limits to help tackle congestion and keep traffic flowing.

Super-span gantries are constructed off-site using a series of symmetrical steel bars and are becoming a familiar site on motorways across England.

A similar smart motorway scheme on a stretch of the M62 in West Yorkshire county, which was completed in 2013, has resulted in commuters saving an average of 30 minutes each week, said Arun Sahni, project manager at Highways England. When the scheme is complete, 258 electronic signs will have been installed to alert drivers to changes in the speed limit, lane closures and incidents ahead.

Also, 70 CCTV cameras will provide 100% coverage of the route and allow Highways England’s traffic officers and the emergency services to respond quickly to incidents. Eighteen emergency areas will be built, giving drivers a safer place to stop if they break down.

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