Driving force: £200million traffic-busting ‘smart motorway’ will save lives, says Manchester MP

Manchester MP John Leech has backed plans for the North West’s first £200million smart motorway to be constructed this year.

Motorists will see a 17-mile stretch of network between junction eight of the M60 near Sale and Junction 20 of the M62 near Rochdale kitted out with technology to tackle traffic jams.

Varying the speed limits, introduce traffic flow sensors, overhead signs and CCTV are all central to the plan, which is the first of its kind in the region.

Former road safety charity Brake’s MP of the year and South Manchester Liberal Democrats John Leech welcomes the upgrade and told MM: “I think these plans will increase road safety across Greater Manchester.

“Evidence from other schemes shows that there have reductions in traffic accidents, emission and journey times.”

The queue-cutting system is estimated to cost up to £208 million and will see the conversion of the hard shoulder between junctions 18 and 20 into a fourth lane in both directions. Cutting the traffic time for a motorway that is used by more than 180,000 vehicles each day.

But the Highways Agency boss driving the project has warned that motorists may face disruption while the road is brought up to speed.

Highways Agency Project Manager Paul Hampson, said: “The motorway upgrade is designed to support economic growth by alleviating congestion, which is estimated to cost the economy £2billion every year.

“For the safety of motorists and our workforce there will be temporary speed limits enforced by average speed cameras and narrow lanes in place.

“At times, normally overnight, we will use lane closures or full motorway closures with diversion routes. Drivers should plan ahead for their journeys and keep up to date with the latest progress on the scheme.”

International infrastructure group Balfour Beatty were granted a £187m deal by the Highways Agency to lead the project.

Balfour Beatty Executive Chairman Steve Marshall said: “We have been working with the Highways Agency for twenty years and look forward to building on that successful relationship. 

“We are committed to lead this project in a collaborative way with our partners, employing local people and businesses in our supply chain.”

The building group will be overseeing the work of three other delivery partners, including Manchester-based civil engineering company Costain, Carillion and a BAM Morgan Sindall Joint Venture.

Construction of the smart motorway is due to start in the summer and is hoped to be completed by 2016/17.

More information is available in this public information exhibitions leaflet.

Image courtesy of the Highways Agency, with thanks.

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