Specialist repair teams working on the M5 Oldbury viaduct have completed the majority of concrete repairs on top of the northbound carriageway.
The project is the largest concrete repair project ever undertaken in the UK and the scheme is also thought to be the largest scaffolding project in Europe, with more than 400 hundred miles of scaffolding erected. That’s enough scaffold boards to cover seven football pitches and enough scaffold staircases to reach the top of Ben Nevis and Snowdon.
This work is essential if drivers are to continue using this stretch of the M5 for years to come.
Other work over the coming weeks including installing waterproofing material, resurfacing the carriageway and putting down new lane markings needs to be completed before the existing contraflow can be removed.
Once that happens, traffic will revert to the correct side of the road, with two lanes running in each direction.
Motorists will then benefit from smoother and safer journeys through the roadworks and will be able to access the M5 more easily from junctions 1 and 2.
Highways England Regional Director, Catherine Brookes, said:
“We’ve made really good progress to concrete repairs on the northbound carriageway and we now have around 95 per cent of concrete repairs completed.
“This means that in some parts of the work we’re now able to start applying the waterproofing material and that is an integral part of the work. This material is really important as it will help to protect the structure for years to come and prevent water accessing the concrete that we have repaired.
“We understand the level of disruption this project involves, and we’d like to thank motorists, businesses and residents for their continued patience.”
Motorists travelling between junctions 1 and 2 will now notice a red material in parts of the repair area on the northbound carriageway where essential work to repair damaged concrete and supporting joints is taking place.
The material is used to help stick the asphalt to the carriageway and is sprayed on top of the grey waterproofing membrane.
The waterproofing material adds an extra layer of protection between the newly repaired concrete and the road surface. It stops water seeping into the structure causing corrosion and damage to concrete.
The waterproofing process is a weather-dependent activity and the temperature of the surface of the concrete and that of the air must be between -10 to 30°C.
The air and surface must also be very dry, otherwise the material doesn’t stick to the concrete if conditions are too wet or cold. If the conditions are too hot, ‘blisters’ will form and this impacts on the effectiveness of the material.
Caption: The layers of repairs to the road surface being carried out by specialist teams at M5 Oldbury.
Removal of the contraflow will allow specialist repair teams to work either side of the central reservation. This will enable repairs to damaged concrete in these lanes to take place, as well as repairs to the central barrier.
Elsewhere, repair teams have also replaced and upgraded half of the structure’s four miles of suspended drainage, unseen to the public, which is designed to carry water away from the viaduct.
The new drainage is designed to carry water away from the structure.
The final phase of the project will include:
- A limited number of concrete repairs along the central reservation.
- Upgrading about a mile of the central barrier to the modern concrete type.
- Replacing the drainage underneath the central reservation.
- Waterproofing the central reservation.
- Installing new gantries where they have been removed and refurbishing those currently in place.
- Removing a large amount of temporary scaffolding.
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