A HUGE new 1,000 tonne bridge is set to be installed over the M27 this weekend.
The motorway will be shut between 10pm today and 5am on Monday, July 1 while the bridge is being installed - it will be closed between junction 3, for Southampton City Centre, and junction 4, for the M3.
Highways England have said that it weighs 1,069 tonnes – as much as 15 space shuttles - and will be lifted into place using self-propelled modular transporters, which are remote-controlled, self-powered low-loader lorries.
These lorries will lift the bridge into place from the carriageway.
The bridge was built in a compound near to the motorway.
The county council is warning of ‘significant delays’.
Highways England have said that building the bridge offsite and moving it into its final position saved what would have been months of overnight closures of the M27.
The work is part of a Highways England project to replace the bridge that carries the A3057 Romsey Road over the M27 northwest of Southampton and is the second of three weekend closures allowing the old bridges to be demolished and the new one installed.
Project manager Andrew Winson said: ‘The installation of the new Romsey Road bridge marks a major milestone in this scheme and is the next step towards opening a brand-new bridge for people in the area and users of the A3057.
‘Our approach to replacing this bridge has meant that we can avoid months of disruption on the M27 and carry out the big operations over three weekends, spread out over time.
‘But, while this means less disruption overall, closing the M27 will inevitably cause disruption this weekend, so I strongly urge drivers to plan ahead and avoid the area if possible.
‘The weather is expected to be very warm this weekend, so if travelling by car, please take some extra water on your journey just in case the diversion routes are busy, which they are expected to be.’
While the motorway is closed, Highways England will also carry out routine maintenance, such as barrier, technology and drainage work, avoiding the need for future roadworks.