Average speed cameras go live for start of M27 'smart motorway' roadworks
DRIVERS using the M27 face two years of major roadworks starting next week with a £244m project creating an eight-lane “smart motorway”.
From Monday a 50mph speed limit will be enforced with average speed cameras for the 15-mile length of the scheme from Junction 4 at Southampton to Junction 11 at Fareham although initially the traffic management will apply between Junction 4 and Junction 8.
The main project will dovetail with other multi-million-pound schemes including upgrading the M3 to a smart motorway between Junction 9 at Winchester and its M27 junctions, and major improvements to Junctions 8 and 9 which are regularly the site of accidents, while the Romsey Road bridge replacement is also ongoing.
Smart motorways are meant to increase the capacity of the road, without the expense of widening the route, by opening the hard shoulder to traffic.
Carrying up to 140,000 vehicles a day, the M27 often faces congestion during peak travel hours caused by the volume of traffic.
The yellow average speed camera gantries installed in recent weeks will go live as work starts, and the limit will be enforced by the local safety camera partnership, said a spokesperson for Highways England.
He added: “We’ll be using a contraflow system and narrow lanes to maintain three lanes running in each direction throughout the roadworks.
“To improve the customer experience, we’ve designed our narrow lanes to be wider than traditional narrow lanes so there is a greater distance between cars and HGVs in neighbouring lanes.
“We’ll also operate a 24/7 free recovery service throughout our roadworks, to help any stranded vehicles that have broken down within our work area.
“Our traffic model suggests that the average journey time will increase by a maximum of 13 minutes during our roadworks. We encourage you to use your usual daily route on the M27 during our roadworks but to allow slightly more time for your journey.”
The M27 scheme entails converting the hard shoulder into a traffic lane providing four lanes in each direction – with a hard shoulder retained between M27 Junctions 7 and 8.
It will directly connect to a new M3 smart motorway scheme starting later in the year extending between M27 Junction 4 and M3 Junction 9 (A34 interchange) at Winchester.
Once the smart motorway creation is complete the concrete section between M27 Junctions 5 to 7 will be resurfaced to cut noise.
A smart motorway uses technology to actively manage the flow of traffic, controlled from a regional traffic control centre which monitors traffic carefully and can activate and change signs and speed limits to help keep the traffic flowing freely.
There will be new CCTV cameras, electronic information signs, and signals on gantries which will show variable mandatory speed limits and manage traffic flow and incidents. There will also be 13 new emergency areas throughout the length of the scheme.
More Hampshire road works
OTHER Hampshire motorway improvements are being dovetailed with the M27 smart motorway scheme.
M27 Romsey Road bridge replacement (£19m): Following the autumn demolition of one of a pair of bridges crossing the M27 between Junction 3 and the Rownhams Services, a new bridge will be installed this spring with the second old bridge demolished in the autumn with completion of the work by this time next year.
The M27 will be closed at this point from Friday 26th April to Monday 29th April for the new bridge installation, and then from Friday 18th October to Monday 21st October for demolition of the second old bridge.
M27 Junction 9 (Segensworth): Hampshire County Council will be undertaking a £20m improvement scheme to widen Junction 9 of the M27 as well as Parkway South roundabout (the first roundabout on approaching Whiteley). The scheme will reduce congestion and unlock economic development.
M3 junctions 9 to 14, smart motorway (£139m): Upgrading the M3 between junction 9 (Winchester / A34 interchange) and junction 14 (M27 Southampton interchange) to an all-lane running smart motorway will start in the financial year 2019/20 with completion in 2021/22.