The Highways Agency has admitted that the M4 Boston Manor viaduct will not reopen tomorrow as originally hoped beacuse repairs are proving more complex than expected.
“The final complex work to repair the Boston Manor Viaduct, just west of junction 2, has reached a critical stage and, due to the complexity of the operation, more time than originally envisaged is required to complete the work safely,” it said in a statement.
“As a result, road users are advised the M4 between junctions 2 and 3 in west London will not open on Thursday morning.”
The Agency said that it still hoped to reopen the road “within the next few days” but did say whether this would be in time for the planned introduction of Games Lanes on the road from Monday, These critical lanes will be used to ferry athletes, officials and VIPs from Heathrow airport to the Olympic Park, and many start arriving next week.
It added that even this was “conditional on the repair work being successful”.
Roads minister Mike Penning said he shared the frustration of motorists at the continued delay but said that safety was paramount.
“Let’s be absolutely clear, safety must be paramount and I will not allow the road to be reopened until this repair work has been completed successfully,” he said. “This is a very complex operation and it is not possible to predict precisely how long it will take.”
Cracks in the viaduct were discovered during a planned routine investigation of the structure in March and repair work has been ongoing. It is not clear how this latest crack was missed during earlier inspections, as the most critical areas were tackled first.
The new crack is no longer than others already found, but the Agency said its “sensitive location” triggered the dramatic action. This saw the Agency close the motorway between junctions 1 and 3 overnight on Friday while it can be repaired.
The unique repair solution involves manufacturing bespoke, specialist steel plates to install over the crack.