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M3 roadworks at end, nearly! Then the M5 starts!

05 July 2017

The epic ‘smart’ motorway roadworks on the M3 are nearly at an end - the end of an era!

The 13 and a half miles of roadworks from the M25 down to Farnborough were needed to turn the hard shoulder into a lane, install new technology and signs and re-surface. Work started in late 2014. Vehicles should flow better and journey times be more reliable as a result, in other words, a welcome investment.

However, the length of the roadworks was disliked by drivers - the feeling of being hemmed in, on narrower lanes, between other traffic and a concrete barrier led to a stressful experience - I certainly found it that. Drivers very much echoed this sentiment in our work on roadworks, Getting roadworks right for the road user.

So, it will be interesting to see what happens in future. Doing roadworks in shorter sections is presumably more expensive. So, the emphasis drivers would like to see on information and signage in roadworks will become even more important.

In the meantime a 50 mph limit is still in place as the signs and signals are being tested. The slip road from the M25 (northbound to westbound) is still a single lane and some re-surfacing still needs doing, but the work is substantially complete. We will test drive the new road soon and will report back. I will look with interest at the northbound M3/M25 interchange which has baffled me twice during the roadworks to the point I missed it!

Also, the new smart motorway has been built as an all lane running section. We know that Highways England are currently reviewing emergency refuge areas following the report of the Transport Select Committee. We are interested to see what outcome that review will bring. Our own work on drivers and the experience of using Smart Motorways will be out in September.

Next is the M5 Oldbury viaduct, between junctions 1 and 2 near Birmingham. Another huge piece of work to repair and improve the viaduct: big work, big disruption. I will be going up to see the works in progress (and the contraflow) in a couple of weeks. I will report back

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