Highways Agency gets smart with £267M project


Highways Agency gets smart with £267M project

Consultation has started on a Highways Agency £267M plan for a ‘smart motorway’ project using the latest transport technology to cut congestion and journey times on one of the country’s most heavily trafficked sections of road.


The scheme would improve a 17 mile stretch of motorway between junction 8 of the M80 and junction 20 of the M62 in Greater Manchester and should get under way in summer next year with completion in two years. The estimated project cost is in the range £190M to £267M.


The project will use the latest ‘intelligent transport systems to monitor traffic flow, provide up-to-date traffic information to road users and using variable speed limits indicated on overhead gantries to help ease congestion. Over 300 new signs would be installed as part of the scheme, along with 50 new CCTV cameras that will be used to monitor traffic at the agency’s Regional Control Centre at Newton-le-Willows on Merseyside.


To increase capacity hard shoulder running will also be used on a five mile stretch of the M62 between junctions 18 and 20, increasing the number of lanes on each side of the motorway to four, with emergency refuges provided on these sections. Overhead signs will alert motorists about lane closures and incidents and allow lanes to be cleared to allow emergency services through.  


Following environmental impact assessment lane capacity might also be increased between junctions 8 and 15 of the M60 where the motorway narrows to two lanes in some parts.


The Highways Agency says a similar recently completed scheme on the M62 near Leeds is making journeys better and reducing congestion. Jacqui Allen, Senior Project Manager at the Highways Agency said: ‘More than 180,000 vehicles use the section of motorway between junction 8 of the M60 and junction 20 of the M62 every day, causing heavy congestion and unpredictable journey times. The new smart motorway will help tackle these issues as well as improving safety on the network.’


Image: Highways Agency