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HS2 uses modular build to complete bridge over M42 in two days.

The 65m bridge, spanning the width of the M42, was completed in just two days and ahead of schedule, as the motorway reopened to road users on the 9th August.

The success for HS2 in the area of Solihull, brings the project a step closer to the delivery of High Speed Two (HS2). This modular build is the first of four bridges to be built close to the new station. Part of the major remodelling of the regional road network, it aims to improve traffic around the HS2 railway line, connecting the existing road network to the new Interchange Station.

How do you build a modular bridge?

The 2,750 tonne bridge structure was carried along the motorway on a self-propelled modular transporter. With 448 wheels, the transporter took one hour and 45 minutes to move the bridge span 150m, where it was affixed to a composite concrete deck to complete the overall bridge structure.

The new bridge was built using a Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) strategy. Expanded Structures led the construction programme on site, with 1,610t of precast and insitu concrete delivered, including 115 modular abutment shells and 298 precast deck components.

This is British construction design and engineering innovation at its finest. Major components of the bridge and its supports were built offsite under safe, high quality conditions, then transported to site for assembly

Advanced digital capabilities allowed us to design all elements of the structure in a virtual world, before building it for real. Great work by the team for delivering the placement ahead of schedule.

LMJV project director - Simon Russell.

Traditional construction methods would have required several weeks of lane closures on both carriageways, followed by additional weekend and overnight closures, according to HS2. HS2 CEO, Mark Thurston was joined by West Midlands mayor Andy Street to watch the bridge being moved into place.

Offsite manufacturing and modular construction offers substantial benefits in terms of greater efficiency, higher quality, safety, and reduced time on site and disruption to local communities and road users.

By delivering factory made components and assembling them on site, we have constructed abutment walls in five days, compared to between eight to 12 weeks for traditional methods, achieved with a site team averaging just eight operatives.

Expanded business unit leader - Peter Lyons.

Thurston explained that this new road bridge is the first permanent structure to be installed along the route of Britain’s new railway representing an important milestone for the project and the West Midlands region, which is already benefiting from thousands of jobs and renewed investment as a result of HS2.

The completion of this project for HS2 will bring the West Midlands within an hour’s commute of Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, York and London, making it one of the most connected parts of the country.

Today’s work (August 2020) also comes at a critical time for the West Midlands, as we look to bounce back economically from the coronavirus crisis. Major infrastructure projects like HS2 have a critical role to play as they help stimulate demand and create and secure local jobs for local people.

Further work in preparation for the arrival of HS2 is scheduled to take place later this year. A similar operation will take place to position a bridge over the A446, also as part of remodelling of road networks around the future Interchange Station.

Mike Thurston - HS2 CEO.

A similar bridge placement will be installed over the A446, ahead of two more bridge structures being installed which will span the new high-speed railway line.

Over 9,000 people have been part of the HS2 journey so far, and it is estimated that the project will support at least another 20,000 roles as it hits peak construction. HS2 Ltd is currently recruiting for 300 people to join the team at its flagship Birmingham office, as main construction runs through this summer 2020.