Skanska Balfour Beatty, a construction joint venture working on behalf of Connect Plus for the Highways Agency, has completed a £1.3bn upgrade of the M25 motorway 36 weeks ahead of schedule.
The completion of the 11km ‘smart motorway’ upgrade between junctions 25 and 27 (Waltham Cross and Epping), from three to four lanes in each direction with enhanced on-road technology to manage traffic flow, will benefit both approximately 175,000 customers who use that part of the network each day and the wider UK economy.
The upgrade, which enables the hard shoulder to be used permanently as an extra running lane, will improve the reliability of journey times and marks the completion of an overall upgrade programme started by Skanska Balfour Beatty in May 2009. The programme has seen 116km of the M25 through Kent, Surrey, Essex and Hertfordshire improved.
The work included the installation of new infrastructure and technology including motorway spanning gantries, refuge areas, emergency telephones, overhead signals, verge mounted signs and CCTV cameras.
The work on the latest section was completed 14 weeks ahead of schedule following the earlier completion of junctions 23 to 25 in Hertfordshire, and junctions 5 to 7 between Kent and Surrey (a section which opened 22 weeks ahead of schedule in the spring of this year).
The early completion was achieved through the extensive use of Building Information Modelling (BIM), which enabled the early detection of design issues while at the same time providing the customer, the Highways Agency, and stakeholders, such as Network Rail, with real-time information on design and implementation.
Kieran McGibbon, Skanska Balfour Beatty engineering director, said: “I am proud that we have delivered the last of our current projects to upgrade the M25 to smart motorway and in doing so have set new industry standards in terms of accelerated delivery and sustainability for motorway upgrade projects. We are also pleased that through implementation of digital design methods and other cutting edge techniques that we have been able to hand this project over to the customer 14 weeks ahead of schedule.”
Tim Jones, chief executive officer for Connect Plus, said: “Over the past 65 months, since formally starting work in May 2009, the Skanska Balfour Beatty Joint Venture has set numerous benchmarks in productivity, design, safety, sustainability, technical innovation and programme efficiency that are unparalleled in the history of highway construction.”