DRIVERS in this morning’s rush hour period were the first to experience the new smart motorway on the M3, in Hampshire and Surrey.
It has become the latest road in the UK to be upgraded to a smart motorway, Highways England announced today.
Cutting-edge technology installed on a 13.4-mile section of the motorway between the M25 and Farnborough, sets the speed limit to match conditions, helps spot any queuing traffic, incidents or broken down vehicles, and informs drivers about conditions ahead.
The hard shoulder has been converted to a new fourth traffic lane in each direction, boosting capacity by a third on the vital route between London and the south west.
Shaun Pidcock, director of Highways England’s smart motorway programme said: ‘This is a significant upgrade for the M3 and will deliver real benefits for the 130,000 drivers who use it every day.
‘We’ve added 26.8 miles of new lanes to this busy section of the M3 and completely overhauled the technology to give drivers better information to help with their journeys.
‘Smart motorways create vital extra capacity, improve journey times and maintain our high levels of safety across the network.
‘New technology will make the road more resilient to disruption, improving journeys by using variable speed limits that will help tackle frustrating stop-start traffic and giving drivers better information on conditions ahead.
‘I would like to thank drivers for their co-operation and understanding while we’ve been building this new improved road and hope they enjoy the improved journeys between London and the south coast.’
Main construction on the project was completed overnight on June 30, when the fourth lane was available for use with a 50mph speed restriction remaining in place, whilst testing of the smart motorway technology was finalised.
Now, the full four lanes are open at 70mph, with the smart motorway technology detecting incidents, actively managing traffic and giving drivers information.