M4 Junctions 3-12: Smart Motorway

Project status:   Planned


Start date:   By the end of March 2017
End date:  By the end of March 2022


Type:   Major Scheme
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Major Scheme

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

Cost:  £586.4 - £862.4 Million


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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.

 

Consultation

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 to 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 the gov​.uk website.

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.

Development Consent Order

The Development Consent Order application and supporting documents was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate on 30 March 2015 and was accepted for examination on 27 April 2015. Notifications of the acceptance under Section 56 of the Planning Act 2008 were issued on 28 May 2015.

The application documents can be viewed on the Planning Inspectorate’s website:

Printed copies of the application were available for inspection free of charge at 15 locations along the scheme from 28 May 2015 through to 10 July 2015.

Copies of all the application documents may still be obtained by either phoning Highways England’s customer contact centre on 0300 123 5000 or by emailing the M4 project team at M4​J3​to1​2​SmartMotorways@​highwaysengland.​co.​uk. An electronic copy of the full suite of application documents on DVD can be obtained free of charge, and a paper copy can be obtained for a charge of £4,088.00. Postal charges will also apply. Paper copies of individual documents are also available on request and a charge may apply.

 

Application Examination - Now Completed

The M4 junctions 3 to 12 smart motorway scheme is classed as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP). Third party land is required, on both a temporary and permanent basis, to enable the scheme to be constructed and, as such Highways England was required to submit a Development Consent Order (DCO) application to the Planning Inspectorate in order to gain consent to undertake the scheme. There are six stages in the national infrastructure planning process. Having completed the Examination stage the scheme is currently in the Decision stage (Stage 5) and this will last six months from 3rd March 2016 through to 3rd September 2016.

There were nine formal Deadlines within the Examination period when we submitted information to the Examining Authority. During the last six months the project team have been busy responding to questions from the Examining Authority and representations from interested parties. All the submissions made during all nine examinations  Deadlines (I-IX) are available on the Inspectorate’s website.

Audio recordings of all the hearings are available to download from the Inspectorate’s website.

Appointment of Detailed Designer and Contractor

As part of a £1.5 billion investment to build ten “smart motorways”, Highways England awarded two contracts on the 22nd July 2015 to take the development of the M4 junctions 3 to 12 scheme forward.  The CH2M and Arcadis joint venture were appointed to develop the detailed design for the scheme. The Balfour Beatty and VINCI joint venture were appointed to work alongside the designers to develop the construction methodology / programme and to ensure that the design delivers efficiencies and minimises disruption to customers during construction.

Additional DCO document links

The Planning Inspectorate has requested that links to the following documents referenced within the Development Consent Order supporting documents are provided here on the scheme’s webpage:

 

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).

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 10th November 2014 to 21st 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 the gov​.uk website.

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

On 30th March we submitted our application for a Development Consent Order (DCO) 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. Printed copies of the application were available for inspection free of charge at 15 locations along the scheme from 28th May 2015 through to 10th July 2015.

The Inspectorate began the examination on 3rd September 2015 by holding a Preliminary Meeting at the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Town Hall. This marked the start of the statutory 6-month examination period which will end on the 3rd March 2016. The Inspectorate undertook  Accompanied Site Inspections between 10th and 12th November 2015 and 9th February 2016.  They held five days of hearings at venues along the scheme route between 16th and 20th November 2015 and a further three days of hearings in Maidenhead between 10th and 12th February 2016. The application timetable listing all key events can be viewed on the Inspectorate’s website.

Now the examination period has closed the Inspectorate has three months to prepare a report, including a recommendation, on the application to the relevant Secretary of State. The Secretary of State then has a further 3 months to make the decision on whether to grant or refuse development consent. Once a decision has been issued by the Secretary of State, there is a six week period in which the decision may be challenged in the High Court. This process of legal challenge is known as Judicial Review. Based on these statutory timescales a decision on the scheme is likely to be made in mid-October 2015. Further information regarding application process can be seen on the Inspectorate’s website.

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 techniques

• 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.

All the documentation relating to the examination of the scheme through the Development Consent Order process can be found on the Planning Inspectorate’s website for the scheme.

Copies of all the application documents may still be obtained by either phoning Highways England’s customer contact centre on 0300 123 5000 or by emailing the M4 project team at M4​J3​to1​2​SmartMotorways@​highwaysengland.​co.​uk. An electronic copy of the full suite of application documents on DVD can be obtained free of charge, and a paper copy can be obtained for a charge of £4,088.00. Postal charges will also apply. Paper copies of individual documents are also available on request and a charge may apply.

 

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.