UK & World News
M4 Motorway Reopens After 'Complex Repairs'
The M4 motorway in west London has reopened after repairs sparked a week of frustration for drivers.
The road, which is expected to be one of the busiest routes during the Olympic Games, was shut last Friday between junctions 2 and 3 after cracks were discovered on a viaduct.
But it was reopened to traffic just after 5.30am after engineers completed the "complex" repairs, officials said.
The works to the bridge supports of the Boston Manor Viaduct were due to be completed on Thursday.
A Highways Agency spokesman said: "An exceptionally delicate and difficult operation to repair cracks in the Boston Manor Viaduct on the M4 has been successful and the motorway has now reopened between junctions 2 and 3 to all cars."
The hairline crack was found on a highly-stressed section of bridge supports by engineers who had been carrying out other repairs on the busy section of road.
"The Highways Agency closed the motorway last Friday night because, in entering the final stages of the repair work, a new crack was found in a highly stressed part of the bridge supports," the spokesman continued.
"This required a unique repair solution involving the manufacturing (of) bespoke specialist steel plates and their installation over the crack.
"The crack then had to be removed to prevent further damage to the structure.
This intricate part of the operation took several hours - even though the crack was a hairline one."
The spokesman added: "The crack was discovered during an ongoing repair programme.
"Work on that continues and for this reason vehicles weighing 7.5 tons or more will still be restricted from using the motorway between the junctions.
"A diversion route remains in place via the A4 and A312 dual carriageways. Drivers are thanked for their patience during this complex work."
The M4, which is the main route from London to Heathrow Airport and the West of England, was initially closed between junctions 1 and 3, causing misery for thousands of motorists.
It is expected to be one of the busiest routes during the Games because it links London and the Olympic Park in Stratford with Heathrow.
The motorway will officially become part of the Olympic Route Network (ORN) on Monday, with one lane of each carriageway reserved for competitors, officials and sponsors.
Drivers have been warned the ORN will include temporary changes including suspended turns, stopping and loading restrictions and traffic signal alterations.