Highways England starts smart motorway project to increase M62 capacity by a third


Contractors for Highways England (HE) are about to begin work on the M62 near Eccles as part of a smart motorway project that will see an extra lane added in each direction on the nine-mile long (14.5km) stretch of the route that links the M6 to the M60.

This scheme is one of four new smart motorway projects in the UK’s Northwest region, worth around £500m (US$637m). They will all begin construction work within the next 18 months, adding over 100 miles (160km) of extra lanes to the region’s roads and helping support economic growth.

The M62 project will increase the capacity of one of the Northwest’s busiest stretches of motorway by a third, and work will start on a 3-mile long (4.8km) section near junction 12 this week, and will be gradually extended to junction 10 during the autumn. The entire M62 smart motorway scheme is due to be completed by spring 2020, benefitting the 120,000 drivers who use the route every day.

The M62 motorway is a key strategic route for local, regional and international traffic and plays a major role as a cross country artery between the Northwest, Yorkshire and Humberside. The section of the M62 between junctions 10 and 12 is a key strategic route, carrying high volumes of heavy goods and other vehicles between Liverpool and Manchester.

Congestion and unreliable journey times are currently experienced at busy periods and overall traffic is predicted to grow in the near future. The North’s first smart motorway on the M62 near Leeds has led to commuters saving an average of 30 minutes each week, despite an increase in the number of vehicles using the route.

HE’s smart motorway network uses the latest technology to monitor traffic levels so that variable speed limits can be automatically set on overhead electronic signs to keep traffic moving at a steady speed, while helping to remove the formation of ‘ghost jams’ caused by sudden braking.

HE will deploy an extensive network of queue detection and automatic signaling systems, which provide protection for slow moving or stationary traffic, and congestion management facilities for agency staff. The hard shoulders on each new smart motorway route will be converted into permanent extra lanes and new emergency refuge areas (ERAs) will be created for drivers to use if they break down. New low-light pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) CCTV cameras will also provide 100% coverage of the routes for staff at HE’s North West Regional Control Center (RCC).

“This project will provide much-needed extra capacity on the key route between Warrington and Manchester, improving journey times for all road users, reducing congestion, and connecting families, friends and businesses more quickly,” explained Malcolm Carter, HE’s project manager for the scheme.

“We are doing everything we can to minimize disruption during the scheme, including keeping all lanes open during the day and only closing parts of the motorway overnight when traffic levels are much lower.

“We have also waited for the Manchester smart motorway to become operational before starting the project, so that drivers only travel through a temporary 50mph (80km/h) speed limit for a short section of their journeys.”

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Adam joined the company in 1994, and has been News Editor of TTT since 2009. In his other role as Circulation Manager, he helped create the original Traffic Technology International distribution list 23 years ago, and has been working on it ever since. Outside of work, he is a keen fisherman, runs a drumming band, and plays an ancient version of cricket.