Specialist 500 tonne cranes will be used to remove three overhead gantries from the M62 near Rochdale in order to allow a smart motorway upgrade to continue.
Contractors working on behalf of Highways England need to close a two-mile stretch of the motorway overnight in both directions between junction 19 at Heywood and junction 20 at Oldham over four weekends to take down the gantries, which are not suitable for the smart motorway scheme.
The overhead gantries – which span both the eastbound and westbound carriageways of the motorway – are 40 metres wide and weigh 130 tonnes each.
The scheme between junction 8 of the M60 near Sale and junction 20 of the M62 will see the latest technology being used to monitor traffic levels and keep vehicles moving by using variable speed limits. The hard shoulder will also be permanently converted into an extra lane to increase capacity between junctions 18 and 20 on the M62.
Highways England project manager Paul Hampson said: “These are massive structures and we will need to close the M62 to remove them safely by lifting the beams onto the carriageway, where they’ll be broken up and transported away, and then by removing the gantry legs using a smaller crane.”
Work to demolish 16 overhead gantries began in April with the latest demolitions designed to complete the work.
When the smart motorway scheme is completed in autumn 2017, around 200 new electronic message signs on overhead gantries will warn drivers of changes in the mandatory speed limit, lane closures and incidents ahead.