M4 Junctions 3-12: Smart Motorway

Project status:   Planned


Start date:   Post 2015
End date:  Post 2021


Type:   Major Scheme
help icon

Major Scheme

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

Cost:  £614m to £862m


-

Highways England proposes to improve the M4 by making it a ‘smart motorway’ between Junctions 3 and 12. Smart motorways help relieve congestion by converting the hard shoulder to a running lane and using technology to monitor traffic flow and vary the mandatory speed limits to keep traffic moving smoothly. The proposed smart motorway scheme will enable proactive management of the M4 carriageway, including slip roads and motorway to motorway intersections between junctions 3 (Hayes) and 12 (Theale) on this major section of motorway.

Public Exhibitions were held during the early stages of the scheme’s development to provide members of the public and stakeholders with the opportunity to understand the smart motorway concept and our initial scheme designs of the M4.

As part of the statutory process for a Development Consent Order, as set out in the Planning Act 2008, a public consultation exercise took place on the M4 Junctions 3 to 12 Smart Motorway Scheme from 10 November 2014 until 21 December 2014. During the consultation we invited comments on the scheme proposals, the comments received and the regard given to these is set-out in the consultation report, which has now been published on GOV​.UK:

The Statutory Instrument consultation regarding the proposed use of variable mandatory speed limits ran for a period of 6 weeks commencing on 12 January 2015 and closing on 22 February 2015. All comments received were carefully considered and the responses are included in the consultation report on:

What is happening?

Highways England is proposing to improve a 32 mile stretch of the M4 motorway between junction 3 (Hayes) and junction 12 (Theale) by making it a smart motorway. (See Figure 1).The smart motorway proposal on the M4 will use the latest technology to improve journeys by monitoring traffic flow and setting speed limits accordingly to keep traffic moving smoothly, instead of continually stopping and starting. The proposal also involves converting the hard shoulder permanently to a traffic lane to create the much needed extra capacity necessary to support economic growth. Information about road conditions and speed limits will be displayed to drivers on electronic road signs.

The conversion of the hard shoulder into a running lane will be continuous through junctions unless there is an operational reason not to do so. Through junction running arrangements, where the new running lane will continue through junctions, are proposed at junctions 4, 5, 6, 7, 8/9 and 11. It is not proposed to use through junction running arrangements at either end of the scheme at junctions 3 and 12 or at junctions 4b and 10, which are motorway to motorway links. See section two for further information.

To enable the provision of a smart motorway along the whole length of the proposed scheme, it will be necessary to widen or replace a number of bridges where there is currently no hard shoulder.

When and where is this happening?

On 8th May 2012, the Roads Minister Mike Penning, announced that funding would be provided to develop the M4 J3-12 Smart Motorway scheme, to ensure a "pipeline" of future Highways England major infrastructure improvements will be maintained, contributing to future economic growth, and supporting Government's National Infrastructure Plan. By developing the scheme now, it will be in a good position to be considered for delivery in the early years of the next spending review period (post 2015).

On 30th March we submitted our application for a Development Consent Order to the Planning Inspectorate. The Inspectorate, on behalf of the Secretary of State had 28 days to decide whether the application met the required standards to proceed to examination. On 27th April the Inspectorate accepted the application for examination. Further information can be found at http://infrastructure.planningportal.gov.uk/projects/South%20East/M4-Junctions-3-to-12-Smart-Motorway/

Why is this happening and what will it cost?

The strategic case for providing additional capacity on the M4 within Thames Valley was examined in the Thames Valley Multi-Modal Study, which recommended against widening the motorway prior to 2016 in favour of demand management measures. The Secretary of State endorsed these recommendations in 2003.

However the March 2008 'Advanced motorway signalling and traffic management feasibility study' identified this motorway link as a priority for the provision of additional capacity and Ministers agreed that hard shoulder running should be investigated as an alternative to widening.

How will the scheme be carried out?

The smart motorway proposal on the M4 will use the latest technology to improve journeys by monitoring traffic flow and setting speed limits accordingly to keep traffic moving smoothly, instead of continually stopping and starting. The proposal also involves converting the hard shoulder permanently to a traffic lane to create the much needed extra capacity necessary to support economic growth. Information about road conditions and speed limits will be displayed to drivers on electronic road signs.

What are the benefits?

The objectives of the proposed scheme are to:

• Reduce congestion, smooth the flow of traffic to improve journey times, making journeys more reliable

• Support the economy and facilitate economic growth within the region, by providing much needed capacity on the motorway

• Continue to deliver a high level of safety performance on the network using smart

motorway techniques

• Minimise environmental impacts of the scheme

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.

For more information about the proposal and the current public consultation, please read the consultation brochure in the publications section.

You can also contact the project team my emailing: M4​J3​to1​2​SmartMotorways@​highwaysengland.​co.​uk

Business Case

M4 Junction 3 to 12 Smart Motorway - Consultation Documents
The Highways Agency is proposing to improve a 32 mile length of the M4 motorway between Junction 3 (Hayes) and Junction 12 (Theale) by making it a smart motorway.

Environment

M4 Junctions 3 to 12 Smart Motorway
M4 Junctions 3 to 12 Smart Motorway . Red Line Drawings for the purpose of scoping - July 2014

Leaflet

M4 Junctions 3-12 Smart Motorway - Planning Inspectorate Introductory Meeting
M4 Junctions 3-12 Smart Motorway - Planning Inspectorate Introductory Meeting - February 2014

Other

M4 Junctions 3-12 Smart Motorway – Public Exhibition Information
Information from the M4 Junctions 3-12 Smart Motorway Public Exhibition held in March 2014

Report

M4 Junctions 3-12 Smart Motorway – Feedback Report
M4 Junctions 3-12 Feedback Report presenting the findings of the initial stakeholder consultation.