M3 £129M Smart Motorway work goes to Balfour Beatty


A section of smart motorway on the M6 featuring an emergency refuge area

The Highways Agency has awarded Balfour Beatty a £129 million contract to upgrade a 13 mile stretch of the M3 through Hampshire and Surrey to a ‘smart motorway’.


The upgrade is designed to increase capacity, reduce congestion and shorten journey times for the 120,000 motorists who use this stretch of M3 daily.


The construction works involve upgrading the M3 between Junction 2 (interchange with the M25) and Junction 4a (Fleet) to a four-lane motorway by converting the hard shoulder to a permanent running lane. Electronic signs, operated by a regional control centre, will be installed to manage the flow of traffic in response to driving conditions.


This section of M3 passes through Chobham Common, one of the largest areas of heathland in Surrey, and the design will take into account ecological considerations with natural habitats reinstated and enhanced.


Mobilisation will start within weeks with main construction works starting in the autumn and completion by spring 2017. Work will include installing and refurbishing gantries, new static and variable signs, concrete safety barriers, drainage and surfacing works.


The contract is the latest in a series awarded to Balfour Beatty under the Highways Agency's National Major Projects Framework since 2010.  In June Balfour Beatty was awarded the £184 million M60 J8 to M62 J20 smart motorway scheme.  In April a joint venture with Skanska completed upgrading a 12 mile stretch of the M25 to a smart motorway, and in January an upgrade of parts of the M4 and M5 to a smart motorway in a £88 million scheme was completed.


Balfour Beatty Executive Chairman Steve Marshall said: "The Highways Agency’s approach to using technology in this way reduces the costs of the road network, provides additional capacity and improves journey times. This award further strengthens our position as one of the UK’s leading contractors for smart motorways and reflects the strength of the relationship we have built with the Highways Agency over the last 20 years."