HS2 removes bridge over M42 14 hours ahead of schedule

HS2 removes bridge over M42.

A team of 20 demolition experts from Solihull-based firm Armac Demolition worked around the clock to remove a 4,000-tonne two-span bridge over the M42 to make way for the HS2 railway in the West Midlands.

The team used eight 50-tonne excavators and two 40-tonne excavators to remove the 40-metre-long, 10-metre-wide bridge during a planned 56-hour closure of the motorway. The job was completed sooner than expected which meant the M42 could reopen 14 hours ahead of schedule, shortening the closure to 42 hours, reducing disruption to road users.

Ian Clarke, senior project manager at HS2 Ltd, said: “This is another fantastic milestone for our civils team in the West Midlands, as construction of HS2 moves on at pace. The team did a brilliant job to get the demolition finished way ahead of schedule, meaning the motorway could be reopened much earlier than anticipated.

“In this region, over 9,750 people are working on the many complex and exciting feats of engineering to build HS2 over the existing network of roads, railways, rivers and canals - creating our new zero carbon railway to connect London, the Midlands and the North.”

Armac was working for HS2’s civils contractor Balfour Beatty VINCI (BBV) to deliver the operation during the closure of the M42 near HS2’s Interchange Station construction site in Solihull.

HS2 Ltd and BBV worked closely with National Highways and their supply chain to enable the demolition works, with all existing motorway technology diverted or removed prior to the demolition. In the last year, BBV have also diverted power and telecommunications cables away from the structure ahead of the demolition.

The bridge, which carried the A452 over the M42, was removed to allow for a new twin box structure to be constructed, which will carry the high-speed line over the motorway in the future. HS2 has built a new, improved road structure and roundabout which now carries the A452, and in future will also enable access to the new HS2 Interchange Station.


Six articulated dumper trucks transported the excavated material to a local stockpile where it will be crushed and reused on HS2’s haul roads and working areas.

Oliver Shore, construction director at Balfour Beatty VINCI, said: “It is through relentless collaboration with HS2 and National Highways that we have achieved this latest milestone in less than two days, overcoming technical and logistical challenges along the way.

“The demolition of the existing M42 bridge will kickstart the next phase of works, with our attention now turning to the construction of the new twin box structure which is designed to carry Britain’s new zero carbon railway – HS2 – over the motorway.”

National Highways senior network planner, Frank Bird, said: “We’d like to thank motorists for their patience while the work took place and for following our diversion routes during the closure.

“This bridge demolition was a really big project and we have worked closely with HS2 over the past few months to plan the closure of the M42 and to try and limit disruption during the work.

“Given the complexity of the work involved, we’re really pleased to see the work completed ahead of time and it’s testament to the hard work of those involved that we could open the road earlier than planned.”

Noel McLean, technical director from Solihull-based Armac Demolition, said: ‘’Armac were delighted to be working again in collaboration with our HS2 partners BBV on the first of three major bridge demolition projects in this section. The detailed planning that had been put into the project over the last 12 months by BBV and Armac resulted in an excellent performance over the weekend.

“A safely executed project, completed well ahead of the closure schedule, and not a single mark on the carriageway. Great performance by all involved - looking forward to the next one.”

From the full closure of the M42 at 00.25 on Saturday 12 August, a team of 30 people removed the motorway vehicle restraint system and installed protective matting. The 20-strong demolition team then moved in to remove the bridge deck, wing walls, central pier and abutments between 07.30 and 17.00 on Saturday 12 August.

The matting was removed, carriageway cleaned, and central reservation and verge restraint systems reinstated, ready for the motorway to be re-opened at 15.00 on Sunday 13 August.

Coming up next, the BBV team will now start to construct the huge twin box structure, which will carry HS2 trains over the M42. The structure, measuring 300 metres length by 25 metres width will cover around 130 metres of the M42 and will be built in position whilst maintaining three lanes of traffic flowing on the M42.

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