The Challenge:

Working in partnership with Highways England and other main contractors on our Smart Motorways upgrade schemes, we have maximised the use of repeatable processes and solutions; increasing economies of scale in procurement to deliver efficiencies. Standard products are designed collaboratively once, then procured and delivered multiple times.

The liquidation of Carillion Plc in January 2018 meant that Kier took sole ownership of the project and took on extra responsibilities that were not previously forecast.

Working safely and minimising disruption to road users are key priorities for the M6 Smart Motorways scheme. Works are carefully planned around key events, holidays and traffic management for neighbouring network schemes. Our project teams are required to work within narrow lanes with restrictive access and egress points, whilst maintaining live lanes of traffic for the 120,000 road users. The adverse weather also proved to be a challenge, causing damage to the carriageway surface requiring emergency closures for repairs.

To mitigate the impact of these challenges, the team maintained a positive relationship with the key stakeholders, both on and off the network, by providing regular updates on site progress.

The Solution:

To ensure that the project could continue with minimal project delays, all the employees that had been working before January 2018 were kept on by Kier Highways. A collaborative culture was enhanced through co-location with the design team, construction team and client; c200 staff

Whilst carrying out the works, additional measures were put in place to ensure that delays to journeys were minimised. This involved temporary widening of the lanes one and two to create additional safe space, 24-hour free vehicle recovery service and customer information stations set up along the diversion routes in local community libraries.

Unique solutions, in terms of constructing the project, included UV lining the existing surface water pipes, negating the need for total pipe replacement, which saved financial resource and extended the life of the water pipes by 30 years. In addition, the team implemented concrete encapsulation for the over bridge structures to lessen maintenance requirements, providing a robust solution to concrete corrosion.

A 20-mile long safety barrier was installed using 5,000 precast units, each weighing four tonnes, and steel gantries fabricated offsite to support 258 signs, 70 cameras and speed control lights. Offsite manufacture of these elements brought increased safety benefits to operatives and the public, and reduced disruption through fewer road closures.

The Impact:

Cheshire has a new smart motorway to facilitate the smooth flow of traffic on the key route between the Midlands and North West. We have built social value into varied community engagement schemes such as the Holmes Chapel High School Memorial Garden, disabled parking Bays at Brereton Church and over 100 more CSR projects where we have left behind a legacy for the wider community.

To date we have installed:

  • 18 new emergency areas
  • 40,000m of safety fencing
  • 800,000m3 of carriageway resurfacing
  • 44 MS4 variable message signs
  • 50,000m of slip formed surface water channels/slot drainage
  • 22 motorway structures (overbridges and under bridges)
  • 60,000m of drainage

The scheme will be completed in phases starting with the northern section between junctions 18 Holmes Chapel and 19 Knutsford – opened to 4 new lanes at 70mph in January 2019. All remaining construction and technology commissioning between J18-16 will be complete, with traffic management removed in line with the project completion in March 2019.

" With the M6 Junctions 16-19 Smart Motorways scheme approaching the end of the civil works and beginning to transition into the installation / commissioning of the technology required for Smart Motorways, Kier continue to demonstrate the importance of collaboration and communication. I appreciate all the hard work and effort that Kier, their sub-contractors and other delivery partners are putting into making this scheme a success, and achieving a challenging programme end date. "
Andrew Brown Assistant Project Manager Highways England

View more projects

Every project we deliver is an opportunity for us to bring our unique thinking to solve problems, innovate and collaborate with our clients and beyond.

Our Projects >