We've completed surfacing work on the southbound carriageway and have switched work to the northbound carriageway. The scheme is very complex and at times causes a great deal of disruption for motorists, which we regret. Unfortunately, the southbound work has taken longer than anticipated to complete as:
- 6,000 repairs have been carried out, which is 4,500 more than anticipated. We were only able to fully assess the condition of the southbound carriageway once the work had started and we'd removed the existing surfacing and waterproofing.
- last winter was one of the most severe in years, with freezing temperatures and snow delaying our concrete repair operations and causing issues for workforce safety
- the prolonged heatwave disrupted the operation to lay waterproofing material. This sits directly under the surfacing and is required to protect the repaired deck from deterioration from water and road salt. Waterproofing cannot be applied when the deck temperature exceeds around 30C. The surface temperature on the viaduct had been around 40C, therefore the waterproofing material could only be applied overnight instead of 24/7, considerably reducing production rates.
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We expect to complete northbound main work on this project by Spring 2019. This is a revision to our original completion estimation and is a result of the additional challenges we faced on the southbound carriageway. We've completed testing of the northbound carriageway and have identified that the condition is similar to the southbound. Weâ€™re working to complete all the essential repairs, using the lessons we learnt when working on the southbound carriageway to complete this work faster.
We're removing the traffic management at junction 4a early in the new year, as the traffic on Sandwellâ€™s road network has adapted well to the disruption. We'll continue to encourage road users to use established alternative routes, including the M42, through our existing signage strategy.
We've planned the removal of the measures to minimise the impact on road users during the Christmas period. This will require some overnight closures, and to do this safely we need time to plan and manage our resources. To manage the traffic flows, we encourage road users to continue using their established alternative routes and other modes of transport following the removal of the traffic management at junction 4a.
|January 2017||Enabling work started|
|March 2017||Public information events held|
|April 2017||Three narrow lanes installed between junctions 1 and 2 with 40mph speed limit on the viaduct|
|August 2017||Contraflow system installed and start of concrete repair works|
|September 2018||Work switches from the southbound to the northbound carriageway|
|January 2019||Removal of junction 4a traffic management|
|Spring 2019||Main work completion (change to three narrow lanes while we repair central reservation)|
Why we need this scheme
The M5 is one of the busiest routes in the country, carrying a mix of traffic through the Midlands and onwards to routes in the north and south. This section of the M5 is particularly busy, with traffic joining with the M6 and other roads into and out of the Birmingham hub.
Oldbury viaduct carries approximately 1.8 miles (3km) of the elevated sections of the M5 to the west of Birmingham between junctions 1 and 2. The structure is safe, but we need to carry out essential repair work to the waterproofing on this section.
This work is part of a major government investment to build a modern and resilient road network. By maintaining this key corridor we're delivering a huge investment that will support economic growth locally and in the wider West Midlands.
The scheme in detail
The scheme is the largest concrete repair project ever undertaken in the UK. In order to carry out the works safely, we'll need to scaffold under most of the 1.8 miles long, 30m wide viaduct. The scaffolding will then be covered in polythene to prevent the escape of water, dust and debris.
We've limited the period we're on site to a minimum and planned our programme so that it does not require closure of the roads around Oldbury. To further reduce resulting congestion on local roads we'll keep the M5 open, along with junctions 1 and 2 entry slip roads as much as possible, with no daytime closures.
The work is complicated and needs a great deal of planning and safety considerations. To make sure the viaduct stays safe during the work and provide the greatest flexibility for repairs and programme, it's vital that one carriageway at a time is repaired.
To enable this, a contraflow system is in place between M5 junctions 1 and 2, with all traffic now using the northbound carriageway with 2 narrow lanes operating in each direction and a 30mph speed restriction.
The M5 junction 1 to 2 Oldbury viaduct contraflow diagram
If you're travelling across the country between the north and south, we urge you to consider alternative routes on our network, such as the M42 and M6 or M6 Toll. This will reduce the amount of traffic heading through the roadworks in this busy part of the network and to reduce the potential impact on local roads.
To help with this, we've made changes to the road layout at key junctions in the area, including at M6 junction 8 southbound and M5 junction 4a northbound.
These roadworks are causing some disruption to the M5 and the local area. We would like to thank you for your patience and recommend that where possible you:
- plan ahead
- allow extra time for your journeys
- consider using alternative routes
- change modes of transport
- car share
- work from home
View information on local public transport alternatives.
View information on other work in the Birmingham area.
View information on the M6 Toll.
We regularly review network performance, resilience and recovery. In November, we commissioned our area manager, Kier Strategic Highways, to undertake a traffic study of the traffic management performance across the strategic and local authority road networks.
The traffic study shows that overall our measures to manage traffic, including the restriction at M5 junction 4a and M6 junction 8, are working safely and successfully by encouraging drivers to avoid approaching Birmingham and beyond via the northbound M5. The volume of traffic on the M5 around junction 1 and 2 has reduced as expected with more traffic using the M42.
The measures in place are playing an overall part in reducing traffic numbers on the M5. If the restrictions at M5 junction 4a and M6 junction 8 were not in place, disruption would be worse than it is now, affecting the M5 corridor, as well as local roads, towns and villages.
Project media files and documents
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