Upgraded stretch of M3 in Surrey and Hampshire opens to traffic

A 13.4 mile section of the M3 in Surrey and Hampshire that has been upgraded to a smart motorway has been opened to traffic.

The section of motorway, which runs between the M25 and Farnborough – junctions 2 to 4a – has had technology installed sets the speed limit to match conditions, helps spot any queuing traffic, incidents or broken down vehicles, and informs drivers about conditions ahead.

In addition, the hard shoulder has been converted to a new fourth traffic lane in each direction, boosting capacity by a third on the vital route between London and the South West. The project cost £174 million.

The new stretch of motorway has 12 emergency areas, 45 CCTV cameras, 113 electronic signs and signals and 55 radar detectors. It is expected to carry 130,000 vehicles per day.

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.

“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.”

Work on the smart motorway upgrade started in November 2014. Major maintenance being carried out alongside the project is also substantially complete, but some activities – including the rebuilding of the Woodlands Lane bridge over the M3 near Windlesham – will continue until later in the year. None of this maintenance will require any permanent traffic restrictions on the M3.

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