Highways England is set to open a permanent fourth lane in each direction on a five-mile stretch of the M62 this week as part of what the Government-owned company called its ‘most complex smart motorway project’.
The Government-owned company was due to open the former hard shoulder on the eastbound section of the all lane running scheme between junctions 18 and 20 on Monday night, but this was delayed by fog. Last night (19 December) the westbound stretch was successfully opened and the eastbound carriageway is due to be opened tonight.
The full Manchester smart motorway scheme stretches 17 miles between junction 8 of the M60 near Sale and junction 20 of the M62 near Rochdale. Highways England described it as its ‘most complex smart motorway project, affecting the second busiest motorway in the country and covering 13 junctions – an average of one junction every 1.4 miles’.
Variable speed limits will be introduced on the M62 (junctions 18 to 20) and the M60 (junctions 8 to 10) in early 2018 which will automatically change in response to the flow of traffic, though the speed limit will remain at 50mph while the new technology is being fine-tuned.
Senior project manager Jon Stokes said: ‘The extra lanes will provide a significant increase in capacity on the busy stretch of motorway between Greater Manchester and Yorkshire, benefiting the 180,000 drivers who use the route every day.
‘We’re now at a stage where we can open the extra lanes in time to benefit both Christmas shoppers and people travelling to visit family and friends over the festive season.
‘Nearly 600 people are currently working to complete the smart motorway and we will open each section along the route as soon as possible.’
New electronic signs will also be switched on along this section of the M62, as well as on the M60 between junctions 8 and 10, providing drivers with journey time updates and details on incidents.
Highways England said the opening of the new lanes on the M62 is part of almost 400 miles of roadworks across England being lifted or completed in time for the Christmas getaway.