A new 20-mile long concrete safety barrier on the M6 in Cheshire is nearing completion as part of a £274m project to upgrade the route to a smart motorway.
The Highways England scheme between Junction 16 at Crewe and Junction 19 at Knutsford will see the hard shoulder converted to a permanent extra lane with new variable speed limits and other technology helping to keep traffic flowing.
Contractors have already completed the stretch of new barrier between junctions 17 and 19 and the remaining section is due to be finished in the next few weeks.
Around 5,000 concrete blocks have been lifted into place to create the new safety barrier in the central reservation using giant claws on an excavator. Each block is six metres long and weighs around four tonnes.
Highways England said the new barrier will reduce the risk of vehicles crossing onto the opposite carriageway and is likely to require fewer repairs.
Mike Bull, Highways England’s senior smart motorway manager for the North, said: ‘The smart motorway upgrade on the M6 is one of the biggest construction projects currently taking place in the North, and I’m pleased we’re now reaching a major milestone with the new safety barrier.
‘When the smart motorway goes live, the 118,000 drivers who use the route every day will benefit from an extra lane in each direction – increasing capacity by a third.’
Work has also been taking place to install foundations for overhead gantries, improve drainage, repair bridges and carry out resurfacing.
When the scheme is complete, 258 electronic signs will be used to alert drivers to changes in the speed limit, lane closures and incidents ahead.
A total of 70 CCTV cameras will also be installed to provide 100% coverage of the route and 18 emergency areas will be built.
The Cheshire smart motorway project is due to be completed by the end of March 2019.