UK city Manchester has announced that the phased opening of its new 'smart motorway' will begin next month. There are current restrictions in place on the M62 as construction on the innovative infrastructure project nears completion.
It has been disclosed that the first sections to be completed are located along a five-mile stretch of the M62 near Rochdale, and on a two-mile stretch of the M60 near the Trafford Centre. In addition to this, it has been conveyed to motorists who regularly frequent the M62 that the removal of temporary narrow lanes on the motorway will commence at the start of October and on the M60 later that autumn.
The full 'smart motorway' when completed will stretch between junction 8 of the M60 near Sale and junction 20 of the M62 Rochdale. The innovative new technology will undergo intensive testing in order to ensure the 100 traffic sensors that have been installed along the 17-mile route of the 'smart motorway' is working effectively, before the new electronic variable speed limits signs are introduced and officially brought into operation from junctions 8-10 on the M60 - and junctions 18-20 on the M62 by the end of 2017.
Highways England has claimed that the extra lanes created by the 'smart motorway' will increase the capacity on motorway between Greater Manchester and Yorkshire by one third. Highways England has estimated that the extra lanes will be opened just in time for the busy Christmas period.
Jon Stokes, Senior Project Manager at Highways England said the new 'smart motorway' would not only reduce traffic congestion, but would also save lives on the roads due to a combination of extra lanes and the installation of 'smart sensors'.
Stokes said, "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. 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. Nearly 600 people are currently working to complete the project and we will open each section along the route as soon as possible."
The scheme represents to date the company's most complex and technology focused 'smart motorway' project. The motorway is the second busiest in the UK, covering 13 junctions which is an average of one junction every 1.4 miles.
When the project is complete, traffic sensors installed will automatically monitor vehicle numbers and adjust the speed limit accordingly. In addition to this, a total of 50 CCTV cameras will be installed in order to provide 100% coverage of the route which will subsequently enable traffic officers and emergency services to respond quicker to incidents.