The Balfour Beatty VINCI M4 Smart Motorway Upgrade team features, alongside client Highways England, in an exclusive interview with New Civil Engineer.

In the interview, the collaborative team shares the complexities of the most challenging aspect of the M4 project to date: the widening of the Thames Bray bridge. Balancing traffic management, the restoration of a 60-year-old bridge as well as adapting to new ways of working during COVID-19, proved the team’s advanced engineering and design expertise.

In order to deliver the works efficiently, the Balfour Beatty VINCI team approached the construction phase with an innovative solution: building the extended bridge elements on an adjacent site and positioning and moving them into their final position over a single weekend.  

Speaking about this solution, Mike Fowler, Balfour Beatty VINCI Engineering Director explained; “Due to the scale of the bridge, removing it and then constructing a new bridge was not a viable solution. Instead it was possible to look at the geometry of the structure and come up with a solution that involves asymmetric widening, so we only widen on the north side of the structure. 

“As we’re not impacting the south side of the structure, it’s a significantly less costly operation and there is less impact on the network and consequently the road user.” 

With the bulk of work on Thames Bray now complete, the scheme has reached its halfway milestone, having faced limited delays during the COVID-19 pandemic and thus remains on track for completion by Spring 2022.

To find out more about the engineering complexities of this project, you can read the article in full here and for further insights into the project and the people behind the works, watch our film here.

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