Connect Plus, the contractor which is responsible for financing, operating and upgrading the 400km M25 network for the Highways Agency, has proposed a new technique for replacement of old concrete motorway that considerably speeds up the road works.
The invention of the Rapid Cure concrete was presented by the motorway management company, a joint venture between Balfour Beatty, Skanska, Atkins and Egis, which it claims reduces the time required for motorway lane and carriageway closures from 1500 hours a year to just 300.
The new technique has been adopted by Connect Plus from the aviation industry where it is utilised for repairing airport pavements. The addition of a chemical called a super-plasticiser and a curing accelerator to the concrete mix makes it set much more quickly.
Additionally, other techniques to reduce the duration of concrete repair works such as pre-cutting the old concrete and preparing it with lifting eyelets for quicker removal and the use of quick drying heated tents have also been introduced.
The new method not only allows one overnight closure compared to the previous full forty-eight hour closure for the road works, but also improves the safety for road workers as they are exposed less to live traffic.
Nearly 10% of the 400 kilometre M25 network is made of concrete. The material is also used in 4% of the UK’s motorway network.
Connect Plus’s supply chain framework partners include Jackson Civil Engineering, Balfour Beatty, Osborne, Skanska, Lafarge Tarmac and Aggregate Industries.
Particular expertise was provided by designer Parsons Brinckerhoff, concrete mix specialists, Grace Construction Products and volumetric mix plant suppliers Axtell and PJ Davidson.
Highways Agency asset delivery manager, Francis Cluett, commented: “The Highways Agency welcomes Connect Plus’ work to develop this new and innovative method of working which minimises disruption by making closure times shorter. Also we want to see road workers spend less time close to live traffic, supporting our Aiming for Zero strategy to make our network safer for them and road users.”
Connect Plus chief executive Tim Jones said: “Motorway closures for the replacement of failed concrete bays are a significant cost to us, our customer and ultimately the road user. We’ve been developing the Rapid Cure concrete innovation over many months and it has enabled us to reduce carriageway closure hours by seven weeks this year alone.
“We can achieve this unique innovation, in part, due to our special supplier framework partnership at Connect Plus which incentivises all of us to work together to find solutions for the benefit of the Highways Agency and road users.”