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FRENCH FANCY

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Contractor Vinci hopes that the use of this French device - affectionately referred to as 'La Machine' - will speed up highways work, thus boosting its prospects of winning the £5bn M25 widening job, to be awarded in 2008. The firm is part of the Flow consortium, which includes Autoroutes du Sud de la France, Laing Roads, Carillion, Costain, Ringway, Mouchel Parkman, Norwest Holst and Jacobs. According to Vinci, La Machine, which dispels concrete bollards, can quickly open and close lanes of traffic. At work here on the Paris Peripherique, two drivers control the machine, one guiding a set of rollers on to linked concrete bollards, the other moving it forward. As it progresses bollards pass through its belly and out on to the road, allowing the contractor to either block off or re-open lanes. Vinci says it shaves many hours off highways work. Vinci is also part of joint venture MVM with Sir Robert McAlpine, Morgan Est, Gifford and WSP that will begin the carry out the £340M widening the M1.

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