CLACKS commuters are being advised to plan ahead with a 23 week upgrade planned for a motorway bridge next month.

The major upgrade works for Hill Bridge at the junction of the M876 and the M9 will begin on Monday, November 22.

Hard shoulder and overnight lane closures can be expected with a 50mph speed limit throughout the works.

However, operating company BEAR Scotland said the project plans will ensure two lanes in each direction on the M9 will remain open during the day time.

Traffic travelling west on the M876 should be unaffected, but the motorway will be closed in the eastbound direction on four separate nights to allow the bridge deck to be lifted using a temporary jack system.

The first such closure is expected to take place overnight on Thursday, December 2, with full details, including diversion routes, promised closer to the time.

The works at the bridge, which carries the eastbound traffic of the M876 over the M9 where the two motorways connect, will see the replacement of the bearings between the bridge deck.

It will also include the replacement of support piers and upgrades to the safety barriers at the sides.

Chris Tracey, BEAR Scotland South East Unit bridges manager, added: “The existing bearings and parapet system of the Hill overbridge on the M876 are nearing the end of their design life.

“It is essential to replace them now to ensure the long-term integrity of the structure.”

The temporary jack system will lift the bridge deck by several millimetres while the old bearings are removed using “hydrodemolition” – a technique including very high-pressure water jets.