M3 Junctions 2-4a: Smart Motorway

Project status:   Current

Start date:   November 2014
End date:  By the end of June 2017

Type:   Major Scheme
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Major Scheme

Part of our programme of improvements (value >10m)

Cost:  £157.9 million


Woodlands Lane bridge – demolition postponement

Over the past few months we have been communicating with you on our plans to demolish Woodlands Lane Bridge this summer. In order to minimise the impact on the community and ensure vital services aren’t disrupted, the proposed demolition has been postponed.

Safety of both the public and our workforce is a top priority for Highways England, as is safeguarding the utility services (gas, electric, telephone and broadband etc.) that run through Woodlands Lane bridge serving the village of Windlesham.

We have undertaken detailed planning for the proposed demolition and we continually check progress and review our planning and contingencies. What has become apparent during this planning stage is that we need to further review what more we can do for the community during the closure of Woodlands Bridge while work is taking place.

We also continue to review the process of moving the utilities, which currently run through the bridge and serve the village of Windlesham, and levels of protection needed for these services.

We will advise of a new start date for the demolition once we are satisfied that our review is complete and fully considers the needs of the community and our workforce.

We will be liaising closely with Surrey County Council and the Parish Council and will write to you again to inform you of the future closure dates as soon as they are known.

For information, Woodlands Lane will temporarily remain closed to vehicular traffic while utility companies are on site undertaking essential works. The lane will remain open to pedestrians while these works are ongoing. Once this work is completed, we will re-open Woodlands Lane to vehicular traffic until such time as we can re-schedule the demolition date. We expect to be able to re-open Woodlands Lane on or around the week commencing 13 June 2016.

One year into construction

With the M3 smart motorway scheme having completed just over a year of construction we wanted to provide you with an update as to some of the works that have been completed and carried out during that time.

  • we have undertaken over 1,086,180 man hours over the last year
  • we have constructed 18 gantry bases and fully installed 12 gantries
  • works on an oil and sediment tank has been completed which will help to take extra rainfall from the carriageway and help filter out hydrocarbon pollutants
  • we have installed a large amount of slip form concrete central reserve barrier (15,950m)
  • we have also installed 21,675m of slot drainage in both the central reserve and on the northbound verge.And 149 new Environmental Barrier panels have been installed

As we move into the second year of construction, we are changing the layout of our traffic management. This will enable us to progress the work, which has already started on the northbound carriageway between junctions 3 to 2.

Our next steps are to remove the contraflow between junctions 3 to 4a which will allow us to provide three lanes on both carriageways. Once complete we will move work from the northbound carriageway over to the southbound.

This work will include:

  • earthworks to verge area (removal of the top layer of soil for reuse such as the building of temporary embankments so that construction can begin)
  • excavation of trenches for new drainage
  • installation of new drainage
  • construction of piling platforms for new gantriesInstallation of new electrical interface cabinets
  • sheet piling to emergency refuge areas
  • construction of retaining walls
  • removal of vegetation and surfacing

Provisional work will start in early February to facilitate the construction of gantry bases on the southbound carriageway between junctions 3 and 4.

For further information regarding the recent work undertaken, please refer to the latest scheme newsletter. This can be found under the publications tab.

What is happening?

We are currently making improvements to the M3 by constructing a smart motorway between junctions 2 and 4a (13.4 miles/21.6km). The aim of smart motorways is to help relieve congestion by using technology to control traffic flows, to assist in the management of incidents and provide information to road users. They deliver these benefits at a significantly lower cost than conventional motorway widening and with less impact on the environment during construction. This is achieved by converting the existing hard shoulder to a permanent running lane.

We are aware of concerns being raised by residents living close to the project route regarding possible noise and visual intrusion issues. These concerns have been noted and are being considered as part of the project's ongoing development and design.

When and where is this happening?

Our principle contractor, Balfour Beatty, began the first phase of works in November 2014 with the deployment of full traffic management. Main construction commenced in January 2015.

Why is this happening and what will it cost?

The M3 between junctions 2 and junction 4a experiences above average traffic counts of over 130,000 vehicular movements a day. Further issues arise with higher than normal levels of congestion in both peak periods (am and pm).

In the March 2008 'Advanced motorway signalling and traffic management feasibility study' this motorway link was identified as a priority for the provision of additional capacity and ministers agreed that smart motorways, as an alternative to widening, should be investigated.

The feasibility study for the M3 identified a single option which will allow vehicles to run on the hard shoulder on the M3 junctions 2 to 4a without Through Junction Running (TJR). This option is being further developed to ensure that best value for money and minimal environmental impact can be achieved.

The estimated cost of this scheme is in the range of £138 million and £198 million.

How will the scheme be carried out?

In order to build the scheme with as little negative impact as possible we will:

  • maintain 3 lanes of traffic on both carriageways
  • use a 50mph speed limit
  • provide a free recovery service for those in need through the works
  • limit full closures to a minimum and manage when full closures take place to avoid conflicting with local events

How will you manage traffic through the roadworks?

In order to help keep traffic moving through the works, we employ a 24/7 CCTV system with 100% coverage throughout the scheme in order to pick up any incidents, accidents or vehicular breakdowns. All vehicles are recovered free of charge and as quickly as possible by our dedicated on-site vehicle recovery service. Drivers and their passengers are taken to our customer care centre where they can wait in a safe, comfortable environment, while making arrangements for their onward journey.

What are the benefits?

Once completed the scheme will comprise the following elements:

  • a queue protection technology
  • MS4 information signs
  • lane specific speed signals at certain locations
  • variable speed limits
  • speed enforcement
  • permanent hard shoulder usage as a running lane
  • emergency refuge areas with emergency telephones
  • a lower noise road surfacing

This will:

  • relieve congestion
  • smooth the flow of the traffic
  • improve journey times
  • provide better information to road users

These benefits will also support economic development both within the region and nationally.

How do I find out more information ?

More information will be posted on this project page as it becomes available. You can subscribe to be alerted when updates are made.

If you have any queries about this project you should contact the Highways Agency Information Line by emailing ha_​info@​highways.​gsi.​gov.​uk or calling 0300 123 5000.

Details of scheduled roadworks are provided to help you plan your journey. Please note that works are weather- and resource- dependent and may need to be cancelled at short notice. This information is not updated in real time so please check Traffic England for current traffic conditions. Diversion timings are approximate and act as a guide only.

Will there be roadworks?

Yes, roadworks will be needed.

Please note that this project is taking part in a trial to make road works simpler and clearer for peo­ple to drive through.

For more information please visit our traffic information webpage.

Road Works

DateDurationDetailsAllow an Extra
Monday 25 July8pm – 5.30amM3 Southbound to M25 Clockwise link road - full carriageway closure.N/A
Monday 25 July8pm – 5.30amM3 Southbound junction 3 to junction 4 - full carriageway closure. including junction 3 entry slip road.N/A
Tuesday 26 July8pm – 5.30amM3 Southbound junction 3 to junction 4 - full carriageway closure including junction 3 entry slip road.N/A
Tuesday 26 July8pm – 5.30amM3 Northbound J3 exit slip road and lane closures.N/A
Wednesday 27 July8pm – 5.30amM3 Northbound junction 3 entry slip.N/A
Thursday 28 July8pm – 5.30amM3 Northbound junction 3 entry slip.N/A
Friday 29 July8pm - 7 amM3 Northbound junction 3 entry slip.N/A
Saturday 30 July8pm - 7 amNo planned closureN/A
Sunday 31 July8pm – 5.30amNo planned closureN/A

How will you manage traffic?

To help keep traffic moving through the works, we employ a 24/7 CCTV system with 100% coverage throughout the scheme in order to pick up any incidents, accidents or vehicular breakdowns. All vehicles are recovered free of charge and as quickly as possible by our dedicated on site vehicle recovery service. Drivers and their passengers are taken to our customer care centre where they can wait in a safe, comfortable environment, while making arrangements for their onward journey.

Will there be diversions?

M3 Southbound junction 4 to junction 4a - full carriageway closure including slip roads:
Exit M3 junction 4 Southbound offslip to A331 to A30 to A327 to M3 junction 4a Southbound entry slip.

M3 Southbound to M25 clockwise link road:
Continue on M3 to M25 anticlockwise to J11 to M25 clockwise.

M3 Southbound junction 3 to junction 4 - full carriageway closure including junction 3 entry slip road:
Exit M3 junction 3 Southbound offslip to A322 to A30 to A327 to M3 Southbound junction 4a entry slip road.

M3 Northbound J3 Exit slip and lane closures.

M3 Northbound junction 3 entry slip:
Take M3 Southbound to junction 4. Exit to M3 Northbound to M3 J2.

Business Case

M3 Junctions 2-4a Managed Motorway Business Case
Business Case - Information correct as at December 2010


M3 Junctions 2-4a Smart Motorway Environmental Assessment Report
The purpose of the Environmental Assessment Report (EAR) is to assess whether or not significant environmental effects would be likely to occur as a result of construction and/or operation of the Scheme.


M3 J2-4a Public Information Exhibition - presentation
M3 J2-4a Public Information Exhibition - presentation



M3 Junction 2 - 4a newsletter
M3 Junctions 2-4a newsletter


M1 Junctions 28 to 35a Air Quality Mitigation Summary of Consultation Responses
Responses to the consultation on proposal to introduce a maximum mandatory 60mph speed limit on the M1 between junction 28 and 35a.
M3 Junctions 2-4a Managed Motorway Statutory Instrument Consultation Report
M3 Junctions 2-4a Managed Motorway - Response to the Consultation Report - September 2013