Highways England to open first phase of Manchester’s smart motorway this autumn

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HE says the £208m (US$274.6m) scheme will provide more technology to help keep traffic flowing more smoothly and with more capacity, meaning journeys will be more reliable. The first sections to be completed will be along a 5-mile (8km) long stretch of the M62 near Rochdale and on a 2-mile (3.2km) stretch of the M60 near the Trafford Centre.

A similar smart motorway scheme on a stretch of the M62 in West Yorkshire, which was completed in 2013, has resulted in commuters saving around 30 minutes each week. The scheme is HE’s most complex smart motorway project, affecting the second busiest motorway in the country and covering 13 junctions.

The phased opening over the next few months will see the removal of the temporary narrow lanes on the M62 starting in October, and between junctions 8 and 10 on the M60 later in the autumn. The new technology will then be tested to ensure the 100 traffic sensors that have been installed along the 17-mile (27km) route are working effectively, before the new electronic variable speed limit signs are switched on at the end of the year. The extra lanes on the M62 are also due to open in time for the Christmas getaway, increasing capacity on the stretch of motorway between Greater Manchester and Yorkshire by a third.

To minimize disruption, major construction work has only been carried out overnight, affecting the overall duration of the project, which will be completed by summer 2018. When the smart motorway is complete, traffic sensors will automatically monitor vehicle numbers and adjust the speed limit accordingly. A total of 50 CCTV cameras will also provide 100% coverage of the route, and allow HE’s traffic officers and the emergency services to respond quickly to incidents.

“We will be able to begin a phased opening of the new smart motorway scheme this autumn, benefiting the 180,000 drivers who use the route every day,” said Jon Stokes, HE’s senior project manager.

“When the smart motorway is complete, drivers will be able to travel in an extra lane on the M62, and variable speed limits will keep traffic moving at a steady speed, tackling the stop/start conditions and tailbacks caused by sudden braking.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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