Hard shoulder to be used as extra lane on M27

Queues on the M27 near Portsmouth
Queues on the M27 near Portsmouth
Cllr Rob Humby (left) with Matthew Riches (right) Skanksa's business director for Hampshire Highways

Council hopes to keep drivers moving through icy weather

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PLANS to turn the hard shoulder of the M27 into an extra lane during peak hours have been revealed.

Highways England said that the M27, which runs from Portsmouth to the New Forest, is part of its ‘smart’ motorway project, which it intends to carry out over the next five years.

The £1.5bn scheme will see 292 extra lane miles added to 10 motorways, including the Hampshire road. It is part of a £15bn roads programme across the country.

The hard shoulder will be converted to a traffic lane and signs will tell drivers what speed to drive at, if lanes are blocked 
or closed and about incidents ahead.

Roads minister Andrew Jones said: ‘As part of our long-term economic plan, we are investing more than £1.5bn over the next five years in upgrading congested sections of motorway.

‘This means better journeys for millions of people across the country, easier access to jobs, and stronger links between towns and cities.’

The news has been welcomed by Fareham MP Suella Fernandes, who has previously asked questions of the minister in parliament about infrastructure and road investment.

She said: ‘I’m fan of smart motorways as they make efficient use of the motorway’s hard shoulder with variable speed limits and that will have a huge benefits in terms of capacity.

‘We have seen smart motorways working very well in other parts of the country, like the M25.

‘This is a real sign that the government is taking seriously the investment needed in Fareham and the investment needed in this area to boost the economy and provide jobs.’

The motorway opened in August 1975, with the first section near Southampton, and it was completed over the following decade.

About 120,000 vehicles a day now use the 30-mile road.

It is anticipated that works would begin to transform the motorway, from junction 4 to junction 11, in 2017/18.

It would then be finished by 2020/21.

It would be one of 14 projects in the south east designed to improve congestion.