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UK firm Kier Highways claims the use of a new material reduced the effects on traffic during maintenance work, with lane closures on the M6 motorway repair scheme said to have been cut by 35 days.

By using the rapid-setting material, Kier was able to implement a different traffic management model and prevent a lane closure, keeping three narrow lanes open on the M6, from Monday to Friday, throughout the project.

The work was undertaken in conjunction with Highways England, the government-owned agency in charge of managing motorways and major roads.

Kier said this lane closure would have caused an average 45-minute additional delay from Monday to Thursday, increasing to 55 minutes on a Friday, which it claimed on a scheme of seven weeks duration equated to a £35 million (€40.42 million) impact on GDP (gross domestic product).

It said the weekend delivery model was viable because the innovative rapid setting material reached design strength in 18 hours, instead of the traditional three days.

In total, an army of 38 repair specialists worked 9,723 hours overnight and weekends to repair damaged concrete and waterproofing material underneath the road. As part of the scheme, 130m of expansion joints were also installed to provide additional strength and flexibility to the carriageway.

Dave Wright, executive director of Kier Highways, said, “In close collaboration with our clients and supply chain, we’ve intentionally focused on pioneering new ways of doing things.

“Sometimes it’s new ways of working, sometimes it’s new products and sometimes it’s new technology, but they all provide ways to deliver a more efficient and cost-effective solution, increase safety and reduce disruption for the travelling public.”

He said the ideas ranged from being the first, with partner Chevron, to ban carriageway crossings – which he pointed out was now a pan-industry standard – to pioneering the 1,000 tonne approach, which means tripling the amount of black top laid in a single evening, which he added was also now used widely across the sector.

“The use of this new material is testament to having a collaborative client in Highways England, and offers tremendous scope for reducing disruption nationwide.

“Having extensively trialled the product, we were trusted to use this new method and it has yielded excellent results, both in the efficiencies and savings, and in the quality of the solution.”

Highways England project manager Jessica Kenny said, “The material cures quicker and gains density as it dries, meaning that repair crews can work faster to carry out repairs without having to wait as long for it to dry.

“Safety is always our number one priority and these repairs were vital in helping us to protect this busy stretch of road for years to come.”

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