Getting smart on the M6

28th Sep 2021

Kilkern has completed a significant infrastructure project to relieve congestion on one of the UK’s busiest roads.

The seven month project on behalf of Costain will help to deliver one of the Smart Motorway Alliance’s early phases on a key section between Junctions 21a and 26 of the M6 in Lancashire. The National Highways Motorway Upgrade Programme will increase lane capacity on the strategic road network by embedding roadside technology and converting hard shoulders to all-lane running.
The programme of works involved removing all the existing manhole access points and replacing them with textured reinforced concrete slabs capable of withstanding the demands of traffic flows. The project also included the temporary welding shut of all gully gratings within the footprint of the works and boring a network of trial holes to assist the development of the main permanent works design.

One of the main challenges was to avoid rubble from the breaking-out of the manholes entering, and potentially blocking, the drainage system. Working with supply chain partners, Kilkern was able to identify an innovative solution in the shape of an inflatable stopper which could adjust to the shape of each opening. By deploying the stopper, it was possible to prevent material entering the manhole. On completion of the breaking out operations, the team was left with the relatively quick process of setting up confined spaces access to enter each manhole to clean out minor quantities of debris and dust.

Throughout the project there were under very tight working constraints. The M6 is one of the UK’s busiest motorways so work was only possible at night in relatively small windows – which could be shortened further by traffic or weather conditions.

Kilkern director Patrick Curran described the project as a testament to the quality of the team.
“This was always going to be quite a tricky programme of works with time restrictions, the need to set up and take down traffic management controls every day and simultaneous working on the northbound and southbound carriageways,” he said. “We worked closely with lead contractor Costain to navigate any operational challenges and we are very proud to have brought the project to a successful conclusion.”
Mark Malthouse, Costain’s Works Superintendent said “My thanks go out to the Kilkern team who have really delivered this project to an exceptional standard.”

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