A BRIDGE weighing the same as around 60 double decker buses will be dismantled this weekend as part of major work to upgrade the M6.

The bridge, north of Stafford, which is almost 250ft in length, will be dismantled and the entire 150-tonne centre section lifted clear and taken away in one piece on a 90ft long specialist transporter to a nearby compound.

Other sections of the Creswell Home Farm bridge will be taken away later.

In total, the bridge contains enough concrete to fill 40 tipper trucks. The old bridge will be recycled and used in the construction of the upgraded motorway.

While work takes place the M6, between Stafford (junction 14) and Stoke-on-Trent (junction 15), will be closed in both directions for up to 24 hours over the weekend of September 22 and 23 September.

Peter Smith, Highways England smart motorways project sponsor, said: "This is part of our plan to ultimately improve journeys in this area by adding extra capacity and technology to the motorway.

"The bridge is no longer in use and is too narrow for the upgraded motorway which will have an extra lane in each direction.

"Demolishing it is a big and complex job and to do it safely we need to use both carriageways of the motorway, which means it will be closed for up to 24 hours.

"We’re doing all we can to minimise disruption though and that is why we are arranging to take the centre section away in one piece, rather than breaking it up which would take more time.

"I’d also urge anyone wanting to use the M6 in that area on September 22 and 23 to plan an alternative route to avoid congestion between Stoke and Stafford."

The motorway is due to close at 8pm on September 22 and reopen on September 23 as soon as work allows.

Traffic will be diverted off the M6 between junctions 14 and 15 and will use the A34 Stone Road as the diversion route.

To reduce M6 traffic on the day, signs will alert motorists to the closure as far away as Dover and Carlisle.

Motorists and hauliers travelling between the north west and the Midlands and south of England will be urged to avoid the area by using the M62 and M1.

Removing the bridge will provide extra space to increase the capacity of the northbound entry and southbound exit slip roads

This is the first of two bridges to be removed. A further 24-hour closure will take place next year to remove the Burton Bank footbridge.

Highways England is increasing capacity on a 17-mile stretch of the M6 between junctions 13 and 15 by turning the hard shoulder into an extra traffic lane and installing up-to-date technology that will help keep traffic flowing more smoothly.

Bosses say the new 'smart motorway' will lead to 'more reliable journeys' on a currently heavily congested route and the upgrade will give drivers 'better information' to help with their journeys.