26 June 2012
The Highways Agency is reminding road users of a 16-hour closure this weekend of the M1 between Junctions 11 (Luton north) and 13 (A421, Bedford) in Bedfordshire while a bridge over the motorway is demolished.
The closure, scheduled for between 8pm on Saturday, 30 June and noon on Sunday, 1 July, will see the 1400-tonne bridge at Junction 12 removed using hydraulic breakers: this is the same technique used to demolish the Catthorpe viaduct at J19 of the M1 in January this year - see the time-lapse video of the viaduct demolition to get an idea of how the old A5120 bridge will be taken down and why the Agency needs to close the M1 motorway.
The reinforced concrete bridge, which carries the old A5120 over the M1 and has not been used since a new bridge opened in May, needs to be demolished to make way for new slip roads at Junction 12, as part of the M1 J10 to J13 managed motorway scheme.
The first phase of managed motorway between Junctions 10 and 11 is almost complete, with testing now being carried out ahead of it becoming fully operational this summer. Once it is fully operational, variable speed limits will be displayed during busy periods and the hard shoulder will be signed as being available as an extra traffic lane, giving extra capacity to road users. See the images on Highways Agency's flickr pages for an idea of what you will see on a managed motorway.
Highways Agency project manager Lynne Stinson said: "Demolishing the bridge at Junction 12 is a big engineering feat, and the only way that we can remove it safely and quickly is by closing the motorway. The closure will unavoidably cause some disruption for road users, but to keep it to a minimum we have timed the works for a 16-hour period at the weekend when traffic flow is at its lowest and we have avoided large spectator events such as the F1 Grand Prix at Silverstone Grand Prix, the London 2012 Games and events related to the Games. During this weekend, we do advise that people plan ahead, leaving plenty of time for the journeys, and use an alternative route to the M1 if they can."
The M1 will be closed in both directions between Junctions 11 and 13.
Northbound traffic will be encouraged to leave the M1 at Junction 9 to prevent the A5/A505 junction in Dunstable becoming congested. Road users will be diverted from Junction 9 along the A5 through Dunstable and Milton Keynes, where it will join the A509 Portway and re-join the M1 at Junction 14. The diversion is expected to add 25 minutes to journey times.
Southbound traffic will be diverted from Junction 13 along the A421 to the A1, down the A1/A1(M ) to the M25 and either continue its journey or go back up the M1 to Luton. People should allow up to an hour for this diversion.
The Highways Agency will continue to keep the public informed as the date of the closure approaches. Road users can keep up to date and register for updates on the scheme website http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/projects/4482.aspx, up to date travel information is also available by calling the Highways Agency Information Line on 0300 123 5000, or by following @HAtraffic_east on Twitter.
In the event of the work having to be cancelled, for example due to bad weather conditions, it will take place at the same times on the weekend of 21 and 22 July instead.
The bridge was designed by Sir Owen Williams and Partners and built in 1959 by John Laing plc. It is 17 metres wide and 41 metres long.
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