Basingstoke motorists traveling on the M3 can breathe a sigh of relief as after more than two and a half years of roadworks, a section has opened up as a ‘smart motorway’.
In the £174million upgrade, capacity on the 13.4-mile stretch between the M25 and Junction 4a for Farnborough has been increased by a third, with the hard shoulder converted into a fourth new lane in each direction.
As well as this, new technology sets speed limits to match the conditions, helps spots jams, incidents or broken down vehicles and informs driver about conditions ahead.
Shaun Pidcock, director of Highways England’s smart motorway programme, said: “This is a significant upgrade for the M3 and will deliver real benefits for the 130,000 drivers who use it every day.
“We’ve added 26.8 miles of new lanes to this busy section of the M3 and completely overhauled the technology to give drivers better information to help with their journeys.”
Work began on the project in November 2014 and the fully updated road opened this week, with the main construction finishing on June 30.
It features 113 electronic signs and signals, 12 emergency areas, 45 CCTV cameras, 12 gantries and 55 radar detectors.
Mr Pidcock added: “Smart motorways create vital extra capacity, improve journey times and maintain our high levels of safety across the network.
“New technology will make the road more resilient to disruption, improving journeys by using variable speed limits that will help tackle frustrating stop-start traffic and giving drivers better information on conditions ahead.
“As well as the smart motorway upgrade, we have also been carrying out the most extensive maintenance on the M3 since it was first built in 1971, fully resurfacing the motorway and its slip roads and restoring it to an ‘as new’ condition.
“I would like to thank drivers for their co-operation and understanding while we’ve been building this new improved road and hope they enjoy the improved journeys between London and the south coast.”