M25 motorists thank BIM, Balfour and Skanska for early handover

An 11km long “smart motorway” upgrade to the M25 was completed 14 weeks ahead of schedule thanks to extensive use of BIM, said Skanska Balfour Beatty, the joint venture that carried out the works.

Improvements to the stretch of road between junction 25 at Waltham Cross and junction 27 at Epping, completed by Skanska Balfour Beatty on behalf of the Connect Plus consortium for the Highways Agency, involved widening the road, from three to four lanes in each direction, and installation of new on-road technology to manage traffic flow. The upgrade is expected to benefit around 175,000 drivers using that part of the network each day.

BIM enabled the early detection of design issues and provided project stakeholders, including the Highways Agency and Network Rail, with real-time information on design and implementation.

It also accelerated the traditional decision-making process through, among other things, the widespread use of electronic sign-off, rather than in person, and the inclusion of QR codes on all drawings so that surveyors and site managers could instantly download them without the need for printed copies.

The work between junctions 25 and 27 of the M25 was completed 14 weeks ahead of schedule

The project also met ambitious sustainability targets with more than 90% of materials coming from recycled or reclaimed sources, said the JV.

Kieran McGibbon, engineering director at Skanska Balfour Beatty, commented: “[The project] has set new industry standards in terms of accelerated delivery and the sustainability for motorway upgrade projects. We are very pleased that through implementation of digital design methods and other cutting-edge techniques that we have been able to hand this project over to the customer 14 weeks ahead of schedule.”

The Smart Motorway upgrade marks the completion of an overall £1.3bn improvement programme begun by Skanska Balfour Beatty in May 2009, involving 116km of the M25 through Kent, Surrey, Essex and Hertfordshire.

It follows the earlier completion of junctions 23 to 25 in Hertfordshire, and junctions 5 to 7 between Kent and Surrey, a section that opened 22 weeks ahead of schedule this spring.

The overall programme has included the installation of new infrastructure and technology including motorway spanning gantries, refuge areas, emergency telephones, overhead signals, verge mounted signs and CCTV cameras.

Connect Plus is a consortium comprising Balfour Beatty, Skanska Atkins and Egis Projects. Its chief executive, Tim Jones, said: “Since formally starting work in May 2009, the Skanska Balfour Beatty joint venture has set numerous benchmarks in productivity, design, safety, sustainability, technical innovation and programme efficiency that are unparalleled in the history of highway construction.”

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