HS2 has completed its first major piece of infrastructure with the installation of a large bridge over the M42 in the West Midlands.
Work to install a 65-metre bridge, weighing 2,750 tonnes and spanning the width of the M42, was completed in just two days and ahead of schedule as the motorway reopened 22 hours earlier than planned. The works, near the site of HS2's future Birmingham Interchange station, are the first visible sign of the arrival of HS2, Britain's future high-speed railway.
Working with HS2 enabling works contractor, LMJV (Laing O'Rourke and J. Murphy & Sons Joint Venture), the bridge was assembled to one side of the M42 motorway by Laing O'Rourke subsidiary Expanded Structures and specialist bridge builder Cleveland Bridge.
Although the motorway is 47.5 metres at this point, the bridge crosses at an angle, so the bridge had to be 65 metres long and was constructed from 1,130 tonnes of steel plate girders and 1,610 tonnes of precast and in-situ concrete.
Meanwhile, the bridge abutments were constructed using 62 piles, each 32 metres long and weighing nearly five and a half tonnes, as well as 115 concrete abutment shells made by Explore Manufacturing, another Laing O'Rourke company, at its factory in Worksop, Nottinghamshire.
The M42 was closed between junctions 6 and 7A (northbound) and junctions 7 and 6 (southbound) at 21:00 on Friday 7 August 2020. Two self-propelled modular transporters (SPMT), provided by Dutch lifting specialist Mammoet, moved the bridge from its assembly area and then along the motorway to its prepared home.