Work on a £208million ‘smart motorway’ that aims to cut congestion along the M60 and the M62 in Greater Manchester will begin today.
A 17-mile stretch between junction 8 of the M60 near Sale and Junction 20 of the M62 near Rochdale will be kitted out with technology to tackle traffic jams.
The network will see varying speed limits, introduce traffic flow sensors and overhead signs and CCTV.
Stephen Greenhalgh, Project Manager at the Highways Agency, said: “It is great news that we are starting work on these vital improvements, which are part of the record £24billion investment the government is making in the road network over this Parliament and the next to support economic growth.
“Once completed, the smart motorway will tackle the congestion and unpredictable journey times that users of the M60 and M62 experience every day.
“It is also good news for the construction industry as more than a thousand jobs will be created to help deliver these vital improvements.”
Construction of the smart motorway, which is the first of its kind in the region, will see more than 200 new electronic signs on the M60 and M62 that will warn drivers of changes in the mandatory speed limit, lane closures, and incidents ahead.
Around 24 new CCTV cameras will also be used to monitor traffic levels from the Highways Agency’s Regional Control Centre at Newton-le-Willows in Merseyside
The project, which is expected to be completed by autumn 2017, could see commuters face delays for up to three years while work is being carried out.
Mr Greenhalgh added: “We will do everything we can to keep disruption to a minimum, but motorists are still well advised to leave enough time for their journeys, especially during the busy morning and evening peak periods, and to drive safely through the roadworks.
“To avoid the risk of breaking down, we also encourage people to do their bit by making sure they’ve got enough fuel before they set off and keeping MOTs and services up-to-date.”
The first stage of the project will see engineers carry out site surveys and ground investigation work.
Some sections of the hard shoulder will be closed and a free vehicle recovery service will also be provided for anyone who breaks down within the coned off areas.
Additionally, a temporary steel barrier will be installed in the hard shoulder between junction 18 of the M62 at the M60/M66 interchange and junction 20 at Rochdale to protect road workers.
A temporary 50mph speed limit will be introduced on the M62 section, which will be enforced with temporary average speed cameras.
These will then gradually be extended across the length of the smart motorway route over the coming weeks.
All of the lanes on the motorway will remain open during the day while the roadworks takes place but some overnight closures are expected later in the project.
Former road safety charity Brake’s MP of the year and South Manchester Liberal Democrats John Leech believes the project will be of great benefit to the region.
“I think these plans will increase road safety across Greater Manchester,” he told MM.
“Evidence from other schemes shows that there have reductions in traffic accidents, emission and journey times.”
Image courtesy of Highways Agency, with thanks.