Highways England has announced that its £174m smart motorway project on the M3 has opened on time – without the smart motorway technology.
The upgrade has converted the hard shoulder of a 13.4 mile section of the M3 between Farnborough and the M25 to an extra traffic lane. The Government-owned company said main construction work has been completed and the extra running lane has opened for traffic as scheduled.
However, the smart motorway technology will be switched on ‘shortly afterwards’.
In the meantime, a 50mph speed limit will remain in place. The testing phase is expected to last up to three weeks with full upgrading works completed in July.
Project manager Pranav Devale said: ‘I am delighted that we’ve opened this vital motorway upgrade on time. This new stretch of smart motorway will tackle congestion and improve journey times for the 130,000 drivers who use it every day.
‘Smart motorways add vital extra capacity, improve journey times and maintain high levels of safety. Drivers will also see better information about conditions on the road ahead and enjoy smoother journeys on the fully resurfaced road – 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 in parallel with the smart motorway works.
‘I would also like to thank drivers for their co-operation and understanding during the final testing phase and hope they enjoy the improved journeys between London and the south coast.’
Highways England said work on major maintenance being carried out alongside the project is also ‘substantially complete’, but some activities will continue until later in the year. None of this maintenance will require any permanent traffic restrictions on the motorway.