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Congestion relief for pinch point M1 junction

A-one+ and Laing O’Rourke have not only tackled a major junction’s heavy traffic but also taken the opportunity to add value to an integral piece of infrastructure.

Project: M1 junction 24 Pinch Point Scheme
Client: Highways England
Contract Value: £6m
Main contractor: Laing O Rourke
Design engineers: A-one+
Start date: June 2014
Completion date: March 2015

Highways England introduced the pinch point programme with the aim of delivering improvements to the strategic road network, helping stimulate local economic growth, relieve congestion and improve safety.

In the East Midlands, A-one+ identified, designed and delivered nine complex schemes across some of the most congested routes.

Problem junction

One of these was at junction 24 of the M1, which is situated at the A50/A453/A6 at Kegworth interchange south-west of Nottingham. It was well known for long delays, particularly during peak hours, with heavy queuing traffic on all approaches and regular queues back onto the M1. 

M1 junction 24 Pinch Point scheme A-one+ Highways England_before construction

M1 junction 24 Pinch Point scheme A-one+ Highways England_before construction

Junction 24 before the project got under way

Analysis of the junction showed the issue was a result of significant traffic flow from the A50 eastbound trying to access the M1 southbound and needing to drive round two-thirds of the circulatory carriageway to do this. The project was designed to tackle this congestion by changing the way the eastbound A50 traffic enters the southbound M1.

“A new carriageway was constructed to cut straight through the centre of the junction, redirecting traffic”

A new carriageway was constructed to cut straight through the centre of the junction, redirecting traffic travelling from the A50 to the A453 south of the junction with additional traffic signals to assist controlling the traffic making this manoeuvre.

The scheme was procured in addition to the major projects contract on the A453 but run as a separate scheme. This was to avoid risk, conflict and delay, ensuring the project retained drive and control and was subjected to a formal pricing exercise.

This arrangement required an exceptional level of collaboration between all delivery partners and a united desire to deliver across client, stakeholders and contractor Laing O’Rourke.

Integrated team

The A-one+ site-based project manager, in effect, became part of the client’s major projects team, driving a level of integration that supported Highways England’s future aspirations of a ‘single agency’ approach. This close liaison led to efficiencies across numerous areas of construction and delivery, while maintaining focus as a standalone project.

The local congestion and existing works on the A453 left only night-time working as an option. However, with East Midlands Airport only 3 km away, handling 38 per cent of the UK’s freight and 29 per cent of mail, there were more than 2,400 HGV movements to consider each night. This again called for unprecedented levels of stakeholder collaboration.

The airport and freight operators’ needs are important economically and crucial to the aims of the scheme. In addition, it was important to consider the impact of works on a nearby 152-room hotel, as well as avoiding any negative impacts on Christmas shopping in Nottingham and major events at Donington Park, such as the British Superbikes GP and the Download Festival.

Stakeholders considered

To maintain good relations, the team worked closely with these stakeholders to understand what mattered to them and make sure it was as considered as possible.

For example: the scheme was expanded to include any medium-term proposed works in order to offer a period of calm. This included resurfacing the circulatory carriageway, a cycle scheme, a toucan crossing and re-waterproofing the motorway bridge.

This consultative asset management means that benefits of the scheme are in place now and unlikely to be compromised again for a number of years. Extensive planning resulted in no ‘late off’ events during construction, minimising impact on the travelling public.

Environmental sensitivities were a crucial driver, with particular challenges around the need to address the already sub-standard performance on water quality. The team took the opportunity to replace the existing unremarkable verges and woodland with bespoke wildflower seed and mixed planting of additional species of shrubs and trees.

M1 junction 24 Pinch Point scheme A-one+ Highways England_after construction

M1 junction 24 Pinch Point scheme A-one+ Highways England_after construction

Junction 24 after the project was completed

The collaborative partnering allowed the site-based project manager to quickly resolve issues without the need for delay during redesign and negotiation.

For example, an improved pavement foundation solution was identified and delivered without affecting the scheme’s delivery, while re-waterproofing works were added without the need to undertake significant design.

The project has improved traffic flows as predicted, boosting the region’s economy and adding value to this vital infrastructure asset.

Richard Hardstaff  is delivery manager at A-one+

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