4,000-tonne bridge removed in 42 hours for HS2

Armac Demolition has demolished a 4,000-tonne motorway bridge in just 42 hours - 14 hours ahead of schedule, as part of the United Kingdom’s HS2 (High Speed) rail project

The two-span bridge over the M42 motorway, which measured 40 m long and 10 m wide, was removed to make way for the construction of a new twin box structure that will carry the HS2 railway line in the West Midlands.

Armac had only a 56-hour road closure window in which to take down the structure, but completed the demolition early by working all through the day and night, with multiple demolition machines.

Excavators demolishing the M42 two-span bridge Armac Demolition completes removal of 4,000-tonne, two-span bridge over M42, 14 hours ahead of schedule. (PHOTO: HS2)

The road closure began at 00.25 hours on Saturday 12 August, with a team of 30 people brought in to remove the motorway vehicle restraint system and to install protective matting before the main structural works began.

At 07.30 hours a team of 20 demolition experts from Armac began the removal of the bridge deck, wing walls, central pier and abutments. Armac used six articulated dumper trucks to transport the excavated material to a local stockpile, where it will soon be crushed and reused on HS2’s haul roads and working areas. 

Demolition excavators taking down the two-span M42 bridge A team of 20 demolition experts carried out the works. (PHOTO: HS2)


The team used eight 50-tonne excavators and two 40-tonne excavators with demolition attachments to carry out the works to the M42 bridge, which previously carried the traffic of the A452 over the M42, completing the structural teardown by 17.00 hours that same day.

The matting was then removed and the carriageway cleaned, before the central reservation and verge restraint systems were reinstated.

According to HS2 Ltd, the bridge demolition was “completed sooner than anticipated, which meant the M42 could be reopened 14 hours ahead of schedule” at 15.00 hours on Sunday 12 August.

Noel McLean, Technical Director at Solihull-based Armac Demolition, said: “Armac were delighted to be working again in collaboration with our HS2 partners BBV on the first of three major bridge demolition projects in this section.

“The detailed planning that had been put into the project over the last 12 months by BBV and Armac resulted in an excellent performance over the weekend.

“A safely executed project, completed well ahead of the closure schedule, and not a single mark on the carriageway. Great performance by all involved - looking forward to the next one.”

Demolition excavators taking down the two-span M42 bridge Solihull-based specialist Armac Demolition used eight 50-tonne excavators to carry out the demolition works. (PHOTO: HS2)

Commenting on the works, Ian Clarke, Senior Project Manager at HS2 Ltd, said: “This is another fantastic milestone for our civils team in the West Midlands, as construction of HS2 moves on at pace.

“The team did a brilliant job to get the demolition finished way ahead of schedule, meaning the motorway could be reopened much earlier than anticipated.”

Contractor BBV will now begin constructing the twin box structure that will carry HS2 trains over the M42. The structure, measuring 300 m in length by 25 m in width, will cover around 130 m of the M42 and will be built in position whilst maintaining three lanes of traffic flowing on the M42.

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