Why is the M42 shut during the festive period and where can I find alternative routes?

A new bridge is being installed in Worcestershire Credit: HS2

If you've been on the road during the festive period, you may have noticed that one of the Midlands major roads, the M42, has been closed to vehicles.

The southbound and northbound carriageways won't reopen until 5am on Tuesday 3 January 2023.

Why has the M42 closed between junction 9 and junction 10?

The M42 is currently shut in this areas because a huge 12,600 tonne bridge is being installed junction 9 and 10 of the M42.

It will carry HS2 trains over the motorway as they head north to Crewe, or south towards London via interchange station in Solihull.

At least 450 people worked tirelessly for 48 hours between 24 and 26 December to install the new giant bridge, which is believed to be the world's longest box slide to move.

HS2 bridge Credit: HS2

Over the last six months, the giant 86 metre-long structure was built on land next to the motorway to reduce the number of full or partial lane closures required, minimising impacts to road users.

The box bridge was slid into place on a guiding raft covering a distance of 163 metres.

It's being carried out over the Christmas period to minimise disruption for road users.

What is the diversion in place for the M42?

  • Motorists travelling to and from the North East, East or East Midlands towards Birmingham (West Midlands) should consider using alternative routes such as M1/A38 or M1/M69/M6 to avoid the M42. 

  • Those travelling from the South East and South Wales to and from the above locations should also consider using alternative routes such as M5/M6/A38 or M5/A46/M6/M69.  

  • HGV drivers are being reminded to follow the signed diversion to avoid a low bridge at Piccadilly near Kingsbury.

Diversion routes Credit: National Highways

National Highways Senior Network Planner, Frank Bird said: “We’ve been working closely with colleagues at HS2 to plan this closure over the Christmas period.  

"While we appreciate this closure will cause some disruption on this part of the M42, wherever possible we are completing roadworks in the lead up to the Christmas holiday and we’ll be lifting hundreds of miles of roadworks across the country between Christmas and New Year to help keep traffic flowing. "

He adds: "We’d encourage all motorists to familiarise themselves with the diversion route before setting off and to leave additional time for their journeys.

"We’d also like to remind people about the importance of checking their vehicle before setting off on their journeys.  

"Simple things like checking your fuel and oil levels, tyre pressures and that all lights are working properly, can keep you moving and the network flowing."