M4 Junction 19-20 and M5 Junction 15-17: Smart Motorway

Project status:   Current
Region:  South West


Start date:   January 2012
End date:  Between January - March 2014


Type:   Major Scheme
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Major Scheme

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

Cost:  £86 million


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We want your views!

Just a few weeks ago, on 15 January 2014, we officially launched the M4/M5 Smart Motorway scheme, marking the end of a two year, £86m project which has introduced various technologies to manage congestion and improve safety on one of the busiest sections of the South West road network.

We are now seeking feedback on your experience of using the new smart motorway sections. To share your views, please complete the online survey. It went live on Monday 3 March 2014, and closes on the 31 March 2014. 

Highways Agency Senior Project Manager Paul Unwin said:

 “The M4 and M5 scheme demonstrates how a smart and efficient solution can deliver improvements that road users need – more capacity and better management of traffic to reduce congestion and make journey times more reliable. We’re pleased to see local businesses and commuters already experiencing the benefits of the smart motorway and have received feedback to this effect.”

‘Smart Motorways’ are a technology driven approach to managing congestion on sections of the Highways Agency network. Technology introduced on the M4 J19-J20/M5 J17-J15 Smart Motorway Scheme – overhead signals, illuminated signs, traffic sensors and CCTV systems – will allow staff at the South West Regional Control Centre to manage congestion in two ways: by varying the speed limit and by opening the hard shoulder as an additional running lane during peak periods.

The various technologies also provide the Highways Agency and Emergency Services with a new set of tools for managing incidents. When incidents occur, the overhead signs and signals can be used to close lanes, direct traffic away from and past an incident, provide emergency services with an access route and safety zone, and if necessary, even facilitate a full emergency closure of the carriageway.

You can find out about the various features of a smart motorway on our smart motorways homepage.

Although the smart motorway system is now fully operational overnight closures of the M4 and M5 will continue for a number of weeks to allow us to undertake additional works. The closures that we will carry out and the diversions we will have in place are listed under the ‘Journey Impact’ tab.

What is happening?

We are working to improve the M4 between junctions 19 and 20, and the M5 between junctions 15 and 17, by making it a "smart motorway" (previously known as managed motorways). Smart motorways help relieve congestion by using technology to vary speed limits. 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. Find out more about smart motorways.

When and where is this happening?

Following the October 2010 Spending Review, it was announced in April 2011 that this scheme would be prepared to start construction in early 2012. For a full list of schemes announced in the October 2010 spending review please visit our Future Delivery Programme page. Preparatory work commenced on 12 January 2012 when we installed narrow lanes to help manage traffic through the works. Works were then officially started on 25 January 2012 by Roads Minister Mike Penning. We are planning on opening the scheme to traffic in the fourth quarter (between January and March) of financial year 2013/14.

The M4/M5 smart motorway scheme is taking place on the link between the main motorways between London, the West and the Midlands and South-West. It serves the City of Bristol.

Why is this happening and what will it cost?

This work is needed as the route suffers from heavy congestion and unpredictable journey times.

The estimated outturn cost of £89 million was approved by the Secretary of State in October 2011 prior to the start of construction. The current forecasted cost for this scheme is £86 million as at the end of August 2013

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How will the scheme be carried out?

We will be installing a number of cameras, information signs and signals on gantries as part of the improvement scheme. As the scheme design progresses we will provide more information on the location of these features. We held an exhibition on the 4-5 November 2011 at Bradley Stoke to explain how we will manage construction to deliver the scheme and to answer any questions that members of the public had. We have also produced an Appraisal Summary Table, which summarises the environmental, economic and social impacts of this scheme. This table and the information from our exhibition are available on our Publications section.

What are the benefits?

Smart motorways allow a pro-active approach to the strategic management of our road network. This will allow us to better fulfil our role as Network Operator and support economic development in the region. Smart motorways deliver benefits at a significantly lower cost, and with less impact on the environment during construction than conventional motorway widening. Find out more about smart motorways.

This project brings together motorway technologies, infrastructure and procedures, from the UK and around the world, to maximise a number of benefits:

  • Additional capacity for vehicles
  • Improving the detection of incidents
  • Improving the response to incidents
  • Helping to alleviate congestion
  • Reducing delays caused by incidents or congestion
  • Piloting new and innovative concepts
  • Targeted solutions to specific problems

Building on best practice and experience of the M42, smart motorways combines existing technology with new and innovative ideas. Together, these make the best use of the existing road space to provide additional capacity for vehicles, reducing congestion and improving safety.

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?

There will be roadworks throughout the life of the scheme. 

Closures of the main carriageway will be in effect from as early as 22:00hrs, if traffic flows are low enough, however closures of junction slip roads and the link roads within the Almondsbury Interchange may be in effect from the earlier time of 21:00hrs. All closures will be removed by 06:00hrs the following day, unless stated otherwise. 

Road Works

DateDurationDetailsAllow an Extra
1 April 201410pm-6amM5 junction16 to junction 15 northbound5-7mins
1 April 20149pm-6amM5 North to M4 West link road10-15mins
2 April 20149pm-6amM5 North to M4 West link road10-15mins
2 April 201410pm-6amM5 junction16 to junction 15 northbound5-7mins
3 April 20149pm-6amM5 North to M4 West link road10-15mins
3 April 20149pm-6amM5 junction 16 northbound exit-slip road10-15mins
3 April 20143 April 2014M5 junction 17 northbound entry-slip road10-15mins
4 April 201410pm-6amM5 junction 15 to junction 16 southbound10-15mins
4 April 20149pm-6amM4 east to M5 south link road10-15mins
7 April 20149pm-6amM5 junction 16 southbound exit-slip road5-7mins
7 April 20149pm-6amM4 east and west to M5 south link roads10-15mins
8 April 20149pm-6amM5 junction 16 southbound exit-slip road5-7mins
8 April 20149pm-6amM4 east and west to M5 south link roads10-15mins
9 April 201410pm-6amM5 junction 14 to junction 15 southbound10-15mins
10 April 201410pm-6amM5 junction 14 to junction 15 southbound10-15mins
11 April 201410pm-6amM5 junction 14 to junction 15 southbound10-15mins
12 April 201410pm-6amM5 junction 14 to junction 15 southbound10-15mins
12 April 201410pm-6amM5 junction 14 to junction 15 southbound10-15mins
14 April 201410pm-6amM5 junction 17 to junction 15 northbound10-15mins
14 April 20149pm-6amM5 North to M4 West link road10-15mins
15 April 20149pm-6amM5 North to M4 West link road10-15mins
15 April 201410pm-6amM5 junction 17 to junction 15 northbound10-15mins
16 April 201410pm-6amM5 junction 15 to junction 16 southbound10-15mins
16 April 20149pm-6amM4 East to M5 South link road10-15mins
23 April 20149pm-6amM5 junction 16 southbound exit-slip road5-7mins
23 April 20149pm-6amM4 east and west to M5 south link roads10-15mins
24 April 20149pm-6amM5 junction 16 southbound exit-slip road5-7mins
24 April 20149pm-6amM4 east and west to M5 south link roads10-15mins
25 April 201410pm-6amM5 junction 14 to junction 15 southbound10-15mins
26 April 201410pm-6amM5 junction 14 to junction 15 southbound10-15mins

How will you manage traffic?

Hard shoulder closures, narrower lanes and safety barriers are in place so we can carry out our works safely while maintaining three lanes in both directions. We have implemented a 50mph speed restriction for the safety of drivers and our roadworkers. This may seem frustrating, but driving through half a mile of roadworks at 50mph takes just ten seconds more than at 70mph, while greatly increasing safety. Some of our works, such as gantry installation and removal works cannot be undertaken safely with traffic using the motorway and will require closures. We have scheduled these to take place overnight, when traffic flows are lighter, to keep disruption to the travelling public to a minimum.

Will there be diversions?

Clearly signed diversion routes will be in place during the overnight road closures.

Closure of M4 east and west junction 20-21 and M5 north to M4 east link road

1. Traffic travelling east on the M4 will be diverted at junction 22 onto the M49 south. Traffic follows the M49 south to junction 18 of the M5 and depending on direction of travel continues as follows:

M5 north/south traffic joins the M5 in the appropriate direction at M5 junction 18

M4 east traffic joins the M5 north at junction 18, exits at M5 junction 16 and joins the A38 south. Traffic then follows the A38 south for approximately 3 miles, joins the A4174 east at Filton roundabout and continues to junction 1 of the M32. Traffic joins the M32 north and re-joins the M4 eastbound carriageway at junction 19.

2. Traffic travelling north on the M5 wishing to join the M4 east at junction 15 will be advised by signage to exit at M5 junction 16 and follow the above route.

3. Traffic travelling north on the M5 wishing to join the M4 west at junction 15 will be advised by signage to exit at junction 18, follow the M49 north and join the M4 westbound carriageway at junction 22.

4. Traffic travelling south on the M5 wishing to join the M4 west at junction 15 will be diverted south to junction 18. Traffic exits at junction 18, follows signs for Avonmouth (A4), u-turns at roundabout and follows signs to join the M49 north. Traffic follows the M49 north and joins the M4 westbound carriageway at junction 22.

 

Closure of M4 east and west junctions 19-20 (21:00hrs – 06:00hrs)

NB. Slip roads and link roads joining the main carriageway may be closed from the earlier time of 21:00hrs

1. Traffic travelling east on the M4 will be diverted at junction 20 onto the M5 south, exits at junction 16 and joins the A38 south. Traffic then follows the A38 south for approximately 3 miles, joins the A4174 east at Filton roundabout and continues to junction 1 of the M32. Traffic joins the M32 north to re-join the M4 eastbound carriageway at junction 19.

2. Traffic travelling north on the M5 wishing to join the M4 east at junction 15 will be instructed to exit at junction 16 and follow the above route. Those that miss the signs prior to junction 16 will be diverted west on the M4 to junction 22, exit and u-turn, return east, take the M4 east to M5 south link road, exit at junction 16 and follow the above route.

3. Traffic travelling west on the M4 will be diverted at junction 19 onto the M32 south, exits at junction 1 and joins the A4174 west. Traffic then follows the A4174 west to join the A38 north at Filton roundabout, travels north to junction 16 of the M5, joins the M5 north and follows signs to rejoin the M4 westbound carriageway.

4. Traffic travelling south on the M5 wishing to join the M4 east at junction 15 will be diverted south to junction 16, exit and follow diversion route 1.

Closure of M5 south to M4 west link road (21:00hrs – 06:00hrs)

Traffic travelling south on the M5 wishing to join the M4 west at junction 15 will be diverted south to junction 16, exit and turn, take the M5 north to M4 west link road and join the M4 westbound carriageway.

Closure of M5 south junctions 15-17 (22:00hrs – 06:00hrs)

1. Traffic travelling south on the M5 will be diverted at junction 15 onto the M4 west, continues to junction 22, exits and joins the M49 south. Dependent on direction of travel traffic completes the diversion as follows (A,B or C):

A. To join the M5 south: Traffic follows the M49 south and joins the M5 southbound carriageway at junction 18.

B. To exit at M5 junction 17: Traffic follows the M49 south to junction 18, follows signs for Avonmouth (A4), u-turns at roundabout, follows signs to join the M5 northbound carriageway, travels north and exits at junction 17.

C. To exit at M5 junction 16: traffic follows route B to join the M5 north, continues to junction 16 and exits.

2. Traffic wishing to join the M5 south at junction 16 will be diverted south on the A38 for approximately 1.5 miles, right at traffic lights (prior to the flyover) onto Hayes Way, then onto Merlin Way and joins the M5 southbound carriageway at junction 17.

Closure M4 east and west to M5 south link roads (21:00hrs – 06:00hrs)

Traffic travelling east or west on the M4 wishing to join the M5 south at junction 20 will be diverted north on the M5 to junction 14, exits and u-turns and joins the M5 southbound carriageway.

Closure of M5 north Junctions 17-16 (22:00hrs – 06:00hrs)

(No access to M4 from M5 junction 16)

1. Traffic travelling north on the M5 wishing to continue beyond junction 17 will be advised by signage prior to junction 18 to exit and join the M49 north. Traffic then follows the M49 to its junction with the M4, takes the M4 east to junction 20 and re-joins the M5 north. Traffic wishing to exit at M5 junction 16 takes the M4 east to M5 south link road and exits.

NB. Traffic that misses the advanced signage prior to junction 18 will continue north to junction 17, u-turns returns south to junction 18, exits, follows signs for Avonmouth (A4), u-turns at roundabout, follows signs to join the M49 north and continues as above.

2. Traffic wishing to join the M5 north at junction 17 will join the M5 south, exit at junction 18 and continue as above.

 

Closure of M5 north Junctions 17-15 (22:00hrs – 06:00hrs)

(No access to M4 from M5 junction 16)

1. Traffic travelling north on the M5 wishing to continue beyond junction 17 will be advised by signage prior to junction 18 to exit and join the M49 north. Traffic then follows the M49 to its junction with the M4, takes the M4 east to junction 20 and re-joins the M5 north. Traffic wishing to exit at M5 junction 16 takes the M4 east to M5 south link road and exits.

NB. Traffic that misses the advanced signage prior to junction 18 will continue north to junction 17, u-turns returns south to junction 18, exits, follows signs for Avonmouth (A4), u-turns at roundabout, follows signs to join the M49 north and continues as above.

2. Traffic wishing to join the M5 north at junction 17 will join the M5 south, exit at junction 18 and continues as above.

3. Traffic wishing to join the M5 north at junction 16 - or M4 east/west from this junction - will be diverted south on the A38 for approximately 1.5 miles, turns right at traffic lights (prior to flyover) onto Hayes Way, then onto Merlin Way and joins the M5 southbound carriageway at junction 17. Traffic then travels south to junction 18 and exits, follows signs for Avonmouth (A4), u-turns at roundabout, follows signs to join the M49 north and completes the diversion as per route 1.

Closure of M5 south junctions 14-15 (22:00hrs – 06:00hrs)

Traffic travelling south on the M5 will be diverted at junction 14 onto the A38 south, travels south for approximately 8 miles and re-joins the M5 southbound carriageway at junction 16.

Closure of M5 junction 16 southbound exit-slip road (21:00hrs – 06:00hrs)

Traffic travelling south on the M5 wishing to exit at junction 16 will be diverted south to junction 17, exits and u-turns, returns north and exits at M5 junction 16.

Closure of M5 junction 17 northbound exit-slip road (21:00hrs-06:00hrs)

Traffic travelling north on the M5 wishing to exit at junction 17 will be diverted north to junction 16, exits and u-turns, return south and exits at junction 17.

Closure of M5 junction 17 northbound entry-slip road (21:00hrs – 06:00hrs)

Traffic wishing to join the M5 north at junction 17 will be diverted onto Merlin Road, followed by Hayes Way, left at traffic lights onto the A38 north, continues north for approximately 1.5 miles and joins the M5 north at junction 16.

Closure of M4 east to M5 north and south link roads (21:00hrs – 06:00hrs)

Traffic travelling east on the M4 wishing to join either the M5 north or south at junction 20 will be diverted east to junction 19, exits, joins the M32 south, exits and u-turns at junction 1, joins the M4 west at junction 20, travels west to the Almondsbury Interchange and joins the M5 in the appropriate direction.

Closure of M5 north to M4 east and west link roads (21:00hrs – 06:00hrs)

Traffic travelling north on the M5 wishing to join the M4 east or west at junction 15 will be diverted north to junction 14, exits and u-turns, returns south on the M5 and joins the M4 in the appropriate direction.

Closure of the M4 junction 19 westbound exit-slip road (21:00hrs-06:00hrs)

Traffic travelling west on the M4 wishing to exit at junction 19 will be diverted west to junction 20, onto the M5 south, exits at M5 junction 16 and joins the A38 south. Traffic then follows the A38 south for approximately 3 miles, joins the A4174 east at Filton roundabout, continues to junction 1 of the M32, joins the M32 north, u-turns at junction 19 and completes the diversion.

Closure of M5 north and south junctions 15-17 (22:00hrs – 06:00hrs)

M5 south

1. Traffic travelling south on the M5 will be diverted at junction 15 onto the M4 west, continues to junction 22, exits and joins the M49 south. Dependent on direction of travel traffic completes the diversion as follows (A,B or C):

A. To join the M5 south: Traffic follows the M49 south and joins the M5 southbound carriageway at junction 18.

B. To exit at M5 junction 17: Traffic follows the M49 south to junction 18, follows signs for Avonmouth (A4), u-turns at roundabout, follows signs to join the M5 northbound carriageway, travels north and exits at junction 17.

C. To exit at M5 junction 16: traffic follows route B to join the M5 north, exits at junction 17, follows signs to join Hayes Way followed by Merlin Way, turns left at traffic lights onto A38 north and continues to M5 J16.

2. Traffic wishing to join the M5 south at junction 16 will be diverted south on the A38 for approximately 1.5 miles, right at traffic lights (prior to the flyover) onto Hayes Way, then onto Merlin Way and joins the M5 southbound carriageway at junction 17.

M5 north

1.Traffic travelling north on the M5 wishing to continue beyond junction 17 will be advised by signage prior to junction 18 to exit and join the M49 north. Traffic then follows the M49 to its junction with the M4, takes the M4 east to junction 20 and re-joins the M5 north. Traffic wishing to exit at M5 junction 16 takes the M4 east to M5 south link road and exits.

NB. Traffic that misses the advanced signage prior to junction 18 will continue north to junction 17, u-turns returns south to junction 18, exits, follows signs for Avonmouth (A4), u-turns at roundabout, follows signs to join the M49 north and continues as above.

2. Traffic wishing to join the M5 north at junction 17 will join the M5 south, exit at junction 18 and continue as above.

3. Traffic wishing to join the M5 north at junction 16 - or M4 east/west from this junction - will be diverted south on the A38 for approximately 1.5 miles, turns right at traffic lights (prior to flyover) onto Hayes Way, then onto Merlin Way and joins the M5 southbound carriageway at junction 17. Traffic then travels south to junction 18 and exits, follows signs for Avonmouth (A4), u-turns at roundabout, follows signs to join the M49 north and completes the diversion as per route 1.

Closure of M5 Junctions 17 southbound entry-slip road (21:00hrs – 06:00hrs)

Traffic wishing to join the M5 south at junction 17 will be diverted north to junction 16 to exit, u-turn and join the M5 southbound carriageway.

Closure of M4 west to M5 north and south link roads (21:00hrs – 06:00hrs)

Traffic travelling west on the M4 wishing to join either the M5 north or south at junction 20 will be diverted west to M4 junction 22, exit and u-turn, return east and join the M5 in the appropriate direction.

Closure of M4 east and/or westbound through junction 20 (22:00hrs – 06:00hrs)

M4 eastbound/westbound traffic will be diverted at junction 20 onto the M5 south, exits and u-turns at junction 16 and rejoins the M4 in the appropriate direction.

Closure of M4 west junction 19-22 (21:00hrs - 06:00hrs)

1. Traffic travelling west on the M4 will be diverted at junction 19 onto the M32 south, exits at junction 1 and joins the A4174 west. Traffic travels west and joins the A38 north at Filton Roundabout, then travels north and joins the M5 southbound carriageway at junction 16. Traffic travels south to junction 18, exits, follows signs for Avonmouth (A4), u-turns at the first roundabout and follows signs to join the M49 north. Traffic travels north and rejoins the M4 westbound carriageway at junction 22.

2. Traffic Travelling north on the M5 wishing to join the M4 West at the M4M5 Interchange (M5 J15) will be instructed to exit at junction 18 and follow the M49 North.

2a. Traffic attempting to join the M5 north at either junction 17 or junction 16 and continue to the the M4 west will be instructed by signage to join the M5 southbound carriageway instead. Traffic travels south to junction 18, exits, follows signs for Avonmouth (A4), u-turns at the first roundabout and follows signs to join the M49 north. Traffic travels north and joins the M4 westbound carriageway at junction 22.

3. Traffic travelling south on the M5 wishing to join the M4 west at the M4M5 Interchange (M5 J15) will be diverted south to M5 junction 18. Traffic exits at junction 18, follows signs for Avonmouth (A4), u-turns at the first roundabout and follows signs to join the M49 north. Traffic travels north and joins the M4 westbound carriageway at junction 22.

ActivityDate
Scheme Design Stage
Public Information ExhibitionNovember 2011
Start of WorksJanuary 2012
Construction CompleteSpring 2014

Leaflet

M4 Junction 19-20 and M5 Junction 15-17 Managed Motorways - Interactive Scheme Leaflet
An interactive scheme leaflet outlining what is happening and when for the M4 Junction 19-20 and M5 Junction 15-17 Managed Motorways scheme.
M4 Junction 19-20 and M5 Junction 15-17 Managed Motorways Leaflet
A new leaflet we’re distributing to increase awareness of the scheme

Other

Respect our Roadworkers

What we will be doing?

  • Providing new gantries and variable message signs
  • Providing environmental mitigation measures
  • Removing vegetation

What happens next?

Construction commenced on the 12th of January, including set-up of a compound for our contractors.

Our construction programme has been carefully planned to minimise disruption to road users. Three lanes of the M4 and M5 will be kept open in each direction during peak times throughout construction. We will close lanes at times of reduced traffic flow for essential night-time works. These closures will be agreed in advance with local police and other stakeholders. Details of full carriageway closures are available to be viewed under Journey Impact.

Narrow lane running and speed restrictions to keep everyone safe

  • There will be 3 narrow lanes in each direction for the duration of the works on site.
  • An average speed limit of 50mph will be enforced throughout the roadworks for your safety as a motorist and for the safety of our workforce

Vehicle Recovery

  • During the construction period, CCTV cameras will be installed on the motorway to support the management of incidents
  • The CCTV team will promptly identify incidents and notify our vehicle recovery teams to assist stranded motorists
  • A free vehicle recovery service will be provided within the road works
  • We will provide facilities for stranded motorists where they can make arrangements to continue their onward journeys

Please fill in the form below with any comments you have relating to this scheme.


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Comments

 

Why will the 50 mph speed limit remain, even once you reinstate the lanes to normal widths?

Work will continue to take place after we’ve reinstated the lanes to normal widths. This will include commissioning and testing of the new electronic signs, signals, cameras and emergency telephones, Until this work is complete, the 50 mph speed limit must remain for the safety of road users.

We will remove the speed limit once the electronic information signs, signals and other technology that provide advance warning of congestion and incidents are operational. In the meantime, normal width running lanes will provide caravans and other large vehicles with more space.

We are testing the sign and signal systems on the M4 first, as work has progressed further there. Once this period is complete and the new systems are operational - planned for later this summer - we will reinstate the national speed limit. We will then move on to test the M5 systems and plan to reinstate the national speed limit there in the autumn.

Why does the testing take so long?

We’ve installed a lot of new roadside technology, so a comprehensive testing regime is important to ensure that:

  • The 202 new signs and signals are functioning correctly whenever activated
  • The 104 new CCTV cameras to monitor the hard shoulder, traffic and incidents are working
  • The 299 new Motorways Incident Detection and Automatic Signalling (MIDAS) loops beneath the road surface, used to monitor traffic flow and speeds, can accurately detect the onset of congestion to warn road users via the new overhead electronic signs and signals
  • The 17 new Emergency Roadside Telephones are working properly
  • The 6 new Emergency Refuge Areas are available for use
  • Over 30 miles of new power and fibre optic communication cables are able to power the new technology and transmit information from the roadside to our control room operators at their desks in the Avonmouth Regional Control Centre, enabling them to set signs and signals and manage congestion and incidents for the benefit of road users

In the meantime, can I stop on the hard shoulder during an emergency?

The hard shoulder will remain closed and protected by cones but with gaps at 20-metre intervals to allow vehicles to stop during emergencies. The 24-hour free recovery service will also continue to operate during this phase of the works.

How long will the 24-hour recovery service remain operational and what will happen when you end it?

The 24-hour recovery service will remain in place over the summer until the completion of the commissioning and testing of technology. We will then make the Emergency Refuge Areas available for use.

When will you complete the scheme?

The published completion date is Spring 2014. However our contractors are making good progress. We hope to have the hard shoulder running as the additional traffic lane on the M4/M5 earlier if possible.