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M20 J8-9, Moveable Barrier Project: Operation BROCK Case Study

Client: Highways England

Contractor: Balfour Beatty

Location: M20 J 8- 9, Moveable Barrier Project

Project value: £55.1 million

Live dates: Summer 2020 – December 2020, with final enhancements starting in 2021

Division and product: Highways, Road Zipper (QMB) using Barrier Transfer Machines

Key highlights and challenges overcome

  • Five departments and nine teams within Highway Care successfully delivered our part in The M20 Movable Barrier Project

  • Approximately 47 days on site approx. And 3,760 working hours to complete the install three weeks ahead of programme

  • Working within the Christmas period to support deployment when French borders were closed, along with CV-19 testing and Storm Bella ferry disruption

  • Installed and provided, 20km of QMB, two barrier transfer machines, four quick remove crash cushions, two 250m SAB Gates

Project background

The Department for Transport announced in February 2020 that a new Moveable Barrier System would be installed on the M20, J8-9, between Hollingbourne at J8 and Ashford. It would be operated when required as part of a contraflow to permit the motorway and junctions to remain open during Channel ports disruption.

The project’s objective was to allow port-bound lorries to be held on the motorway while all other traffic continues to have access to the motorway in both directions

Unlike the previous solution implemented in 2019, the new Moveable Barrier System would allow the M20 to operate in its full capacity 99.9% of the time and only when required a contraflow could be deployed overnight.


Highway Care collaborated with Highways England, Balfour Beatty Atkins and Lindsay Transportation Solutions among other contractors on the project.

The project required weeks of preparation including numerous test runs in time for December 31st 2020, when the UK left the European Union. The Highway Care team worked on behalf of Balfour Beatty to to install the barrier and operate the Barrier Transfer Machines.

Op Brock deployment trial

The test run of the deployment was from Friday 11th – Monday 14th December. Across the weekend two barrier transfer machines followed a full schedule of movements including:

Friday 11th December: Two barrier transfer machines deployed 20km barrier to create a 2 + 1 contraflow, 2 x 250m long SAB Gates opened, three crash cushions removed, one crash cushion installed

Saturday 12th December: 2 + 2 contraflow deploying 20km of barrier, one crash cushion relocated

Sunday 13th December: 2 x 250m long SAB Gates were closed

Monday 14th December: Three crash cushions re installed, one crash cushion removed, approximately 20km of barrier removed back to the hard shoulder

Contractor quotes

George Pargeter, Project Director, Balfour Beatty

“I would like to thank everyone at Highway Care for the safe and speedy installation of Operation Brock at such short notice and the continuing support from you and the team throughout the Christmas break.

The efforts and dedication of the Highway Care team to help us and Highways England dealing with such a sensitive and dynamic situation is much appreciated.

Thank you all for your help from the start of Project Brock, I look forward to your continuing support on Project Brock and beyond.”

Ines Eiro, Project Manager, Balfour Beatty

“Highway Care team’s commitment to the project has been very much appreciated. Their input with innovative technical solutions for cross over gates and permanent sockets for anchoring crash cushion to the main carriageway, were pivotal for the success of the project.

The M20 – Moveable Barrier Solution project presented some unique challenges and it was a pleasure to have Highway Care’s team on board for the journey.

From setting up specific training programme for the road zipper machines, to alternative anchoring solutions for QMB reflectors every challenge was successfully surpassed.

Thanks to Highway Care for all their hard work on this project. It will be a pleasure to work with you again.”

#opbrock #highwaysengland #roadsafety #saferroads