The 40-year-old footbridge spanning the southbound and northbound areas of the Michaelwood Services had reached the end of its life. It had been closed to pedestrians since 2018.
A team of 70 people were involved in the cutting, dismantling and lifting of the motorway bridge, aided by a 750-tonne crane. A further two 130-foot cranes were used to manoeuvre the 69-tonne structure for cutting and removal.
In a real-life Saturday takeaway, the metal and concrete were transported away for recycling. Come the morning, the road was reopened for traffic, with many drivers oblivious to the removal job that had taken place overnight.
Highways England took the opportunity to carry out other essential maintenance work during the overnight closure. Project manager Adrian Simon said: “It was a massive operation for our principal contractor Carnell, we understood the closure would have an effect on journey times and we appreciate people’s co-operation and patience during the work.
“We carried out additional work between junctions 13 and 14 to minimise disruption, the removal operation was carried out safely and discussions are ongoing regarding building a replacement footbridge.
“As is the case with a lot of our replacement and renewal schemes, another positive will see the materials recycled and put to good use elsewhere.
Not everything went according to plan. The team experienced computer issues with one of the 130-tonne cranes, unseen issues detaching the main span from the piers and additional cutting of the bridge deck.
Adrian Simon added: “Due to the complex nature of the operation, we did reopen the M5 a little later than scheduled, and again, we’d like to thank drivers using the diversion routes for their patience.“
Now watch the time-lapse footage of the bridge removal. They make it look so easy…