Three overhead gantries are due to be removed from the M62 near Todmorden during the next four weekends as part of a major project to tackle congestion and improve journey times.
Contractors for Highways England need to close a two-mile stretch of the motorway overnight in both directions between junction 19 at Heywood and junction 20 at Oldham on Saturday nights to take down the gantries, which are not suitable for the smart motorway scheme.
The overhead gantries – which span both the eastbound and westbound carriageways of the motorway – are 40 metres wide and weigh 130 tonnes each.
Specialist 500 tonne cranes will be used to remove the gantries during the closures between 9pm each Saturday night and 10am each Sunday morning as part of the £202 million smart motorway project.
The scheme between junction 8 of the M60 near Sale and junction 20 of the M62 will see the latest technology being used to monitor traffic levels and keep vehicles moving by using variable speed limits. The hard shoulder will also be permanently converted into an extra lane to increase capacity between junctions 18 and 20 on the M62.
Highways England project manager Paul Hampson said: “These are massive structures and we will need to close the M62 to remove them safely by lifting the beams onto the carriageway, where they’ll be broken up and transported away, and then by removing the gantry legs using a smaller crane.
“We’re advising people to allow extra time for their journeys if they’re planning to travel when the closures are taking place, although we’ve deliberately timed the demolition work to be carried out when traffic levels are at their lowest.”
The overnight closures between junctions 19 and 20 on the M62 will take place on Saturday 14, 21 and 28 November, and on Saturday 5 December. The closures could be postponed if strong winds are forecast.
The eastbound diversion route for the closures from junction 19 will operate north of the motorway – from junction 19 using the northbound A6046, eastbound A458 and southbound A627(M) down to junction 20.
The westbound diversion will run south of the motorway – with drivers sent onto the southbound A627(M) from junction 20, westbound A664 and northbound A6046 up to junction 19.
Work to demolish 16 overhead gantries began in April with the latest demolitions designed to complete the work.
When the smart motorway scheme is completed in autumn 2017, around 200 new electronic message signs on overhead gantries will warn drivers of changes in the mandatory speed limit, lane closures and incidents ahead.