Both carriageways of the M62 are to shut on Thursday and Friday nights this week.

The closures will be between Junction 19 at Heywood and Junction 20 at Rochdale as part of a huge smart motorway scheme.

Engineers need to close the busy motorway to instal ‘superspan’ gantries crossing whole sections of the M60 and M62 smart motorway project.

Contractors for Highways England are installing three giant overhead gantries during June, to carry message and variable speed limit signs.

The next two superspan gantries will be erected across the M62, between junction 19 at Heywood and junction 20 at Rochdale, at night on Thursday 2 and Friday 3 June.

Giant gantries are to be hauled into place on the M62

The gantries – which will span both the eastbound and westbound carriageways of the motorway – are up to 59 metres wide, weigh up to 78 tonnes and will require a special 500-tonne crane to help install them as well as full overnight motorway closures in both directions.

The overnight closures will take place along the M62 in both directions between junction 19 and junction 20 from 10pm until 6am on both nights. The closures could be postponed if strong winds are forecast.

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The smart motorway scheme, between junction 8 of the M60 near Sale and junction 20 of the M62, will see the latest technology being used to monitor traffic levels and keep vehicles moving by using variable speed limits.

The stretch from Brighouse to Leeds is already a smart motorway and there are plans for the transPennine stretch above Huddersfield to be converted in the future.

Drivers using the M62 smart motorway are saving up to 30 minutes each week as the number of people using the road increases, according to Highways England

The hard shoulder will also be permanently converted into an extra lane to increase capacity between junctions 18 and 20 on the M62.

Highways England project manager Stef Wilson said: “We started work on installing the new gantries last month and it’s going smoothly.

“It’s a very big job that calls for night closures in both directions, but then they’re very big structures. You really get a sense of their size when they are on the ground waiting to go up.

“We’re in quite an intensive phase of the project just now with a programme of overnight closures, so it’s important for people who use the motorway at night to plan their journeys.”

Diversion are via Middleton Road, Coronation Avenue, the A6045, the A58, the A664 and the A627 (M).