M3 Junctions 2-4a: Smart Motorway
Part of our programme of improvements (value >10m)
The Highways Agency is currently carrying out ground investigations on the hard shoulder to assist with the design process for the M3 smart motorway scheme. The hard shoulder will be closed at various locations between junctions 2 and 4a for the safety of road users and our workers, with overnight lane and slip road closures in place, when traffic volumes are at their lowest.
The consultation on the Highways Agency's proposed implementation of Variable Mandatory Speed Limits between Junctions 2-4a of the M3 Motorway has now closed. All responses received from consultees within the consultation period have been considered and responded to as necessary. A summary report is available on the Highways Agency website under Publications.
What is happening?
We propose to improve the M3 by making it a "managed motorway" between junctions 2 and 4. Managed motorways help relieve congestion by using technology to control traffic flows, making best use of the existing road space by utilising the hard shoulder, assist in the management of incidents and providing information to road users. They also allow the hard shoulder to be used as a running lane at peak times to create additional capacity. They deliver these benefits at a significantly lower cost than conventional motorway widening and with less impact on the environment during construction.
The project is in the development stage and a number of assessments are being undertaken to fully understand the impacts of the scheme on residents along the route. These assessments are due to be complete in 2013. The project will undertake Public exhibitions later in 2013 at which time more detail of the design and possible mitigation measures will be made available.
The project is 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 projects ongoing development and design.
Find out more about Managed Motorways.
When and where is this happening?
In the November 2011 autumn statement, the Chancellor announced that the M3 junction’s 2-4a Managed Motorway scheme would be prepared for construction before 2015. Following this, the 2012 Budget confirmed the start of work for this scheme to be in financial year 2013/14, subject to the outcome of statutory processes. Since then, the Prime Minister announced that this scheme would be one of four schemes to be included in a pilot to significantly reduce the delivery time of road schemes; we have been challenged to complete this scheme by Spring 2015. We expect this scheme to commence construction between January and March 2014. Find out more about our Current Delivery Programme.
The project team expects to be presenting the scheme to stakeholders and members of the public in 2013, once necessary assessments, investigations, surveys and design have been completed. Further details of these exhibitions will be provided via this website nearer the time.
This Managed Motorway scheme will be carried on 13.4 miles (21.6km) of the M3 motorway from its junction with the M25 (M25 J12) to junction 4a where it meets the A327 in Surrey.
Why is this happening and what will it cost?
The strategic case for providing additional capacity on the M3 within Thames Valley was examined in the Thames Valley Multi-Modal Study which recommended against widening the motorway prior to 2016 in favor of demand management measures. The Secretary of State endorsed these recommendations in 2003. However the March 2008 ' Advanced motorway signaling and traffic management feasibility study' identified this motorway link as a priority for the provision of additional capacity and Ministers agreed that managed motorways, as an alternative to widening, should be investigated.
The M3 between J2 and J4a experiences high traffic flows during both peak periods (am and pm) and has a higher than average accident rate.
The estimated cost of this scheme is in the range of £134 million to £183 million.
How will the scheme be carried out?
Managed motorway schemes have been in operation for a few years on the strategic network e.g.M42 and the concept together with their benefits is better understood. Further improvements have been made to the original concept and these developments include permanently converting the hard should to a running lane and developing the design so that schemes will have:
- Fewer overhead gantries which span the whole motorway
- Fewer signals over each lane and more verge mounting signing
- Comprehensive CCTV camera coverage – although there will no longer be the need for dedicated cameras to open and close the hard shoulder.
A number of cameras, information signs and signals on gantries will be installed as part of the improvement scheme. As the scheme design progresses we will provide more information on the location of these features.
The feasibility study for the M3 identified a single option which will allow vehicles o run on the Hard Shoulder on the M3 J2-J4a without Through Junction Running (TJR). This option is being further developed to ensure best Value for Money and minimal environmental impact can be achieved.
The feasibility study for the M3 identified a single option which will allow vehicles to permanently run on the Hard Shoulder on the M3 J2-J4a between junctions. This design is being further developed to ensure best Value for Money with minimal environmental impact.
The scheme will comprise the following elements:
- MIDAS Queue protection technology
- CCTV coverage
- 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
- Low noise road surfacing (at locations where resurfacing is likely to be required as part of the project)
What are the benefits?
This project will:
- relieve congestion
- smooth the flow of the traffic
- improving safety and reduce serious accidents
- improve journey times
- provide better information to road users
These benefits will also support economic development in the region.
We already have evidence of the benefits that a managed motorway scheme can bring. The first managed motorway scheme opened to traffic on the M42 motorway in 2006. Recent analysis of the data gathered since opening has found that journey time reliability improved by 22 per cent and reduced emissions by up to 10 per cent due to traffic flowing more smoothly.
In addition, personal injury accidents have reduced by more than half (55.7%) since hard shoulder running was introduced. There was also an overall reduction in the severity of accidents with zero fatalities and fewer seriously injured.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 0300 123 5000.
Business Case - Information correct as at December 2010
M3 Junctions 2-4a Managed Motorway - Response to the Consultation Report - September 2013