Work to transform one of the North West’s busiest stretches of motorway into a smart motorway, increasing capacity by a third, is due to start this weekend.
Contractors for Highways England will begin work on the M62 near Eccles as part of a smart motorway project that will see an extra lane added in each direction on the nine-mile stretch of motorway that links the M6 to the M60.
The scheme is one of four new smart motorway projects in the North West, worth around £500 million. They will all begin construction work within the next 18 months, adding over 100 miles of extra lanes to the region’s roads.
Temporary narrow lanes will begin to be introduced on a three-mile stretch of the M62 near junction 12 this weekend to allow contractors to work at the side of the motorway, and a 50mph speed limit will be needed for the safety of drivers and workers.
The roadworks will be gradually extended to junction 10 during the autumn and the smart motorway scheme is due to be completed by spring 2020, benefitting the 120,000 drivers who use the route every day.
Malcolm Carter, project manager at Highways England, said: “This project will provide much-needed extra capacity on the key route between Warrington and Manchester, improving journey times for all road users, reducing congestion and connecting families, friends and businesses more quickly.
“We are doing everything we can to minimise disruption during the scheme, including keeping all lanes open during the day and only closing parts of the motorway overnight when traffic levels are much lower.
“We have also waited for the Manchester smart motorway to become operational before starting the project, so that drivers only travel through a temporary 50mph speed limit for a short section of their journeys.”
The North’s first smart motorway on the M62 near Leeds has led to commuters saving an average of 30 minutes each week, despite an increase in the number of vehicles using the route, says Highways England.
Smart motorways use the latest technology to monitor traffic levels so that variable speed limits can be automatically set on overhead electronic signs to keep traffic moving at a steady speed.
The hard shoulders on each new smart motorway route will be converted into permanent extra lanes and new emergency areas will be created for drivers to use if they break down. New CCTV cameras will also provide 100% coverage of the routes.
One of the most important signals on a smart motorway – the red X – is used to identify when a lane is closed and indicates that drivers should move into an open lane to continue their journeys.
Driving in a closed lane is dangerous, as there could be debris in the road or an accident or breakdown up ahead. Keeping the lane clear gives the emergency services the access they need to help.
More details about how to drive on a smart motorway are available at www.gov.uk/guidance/how-to-drive-on-a-smart-motorway.
Overnight carriageway closures will be needed on the M62 between junctions 11 and 12 from tomorrow (Saturday, August 11) to install the temporary narrow lanes for the smart motorway upgrade.
The closures will take place for around a dozen nights, between 10pm and 6am, with a diversion route using the M6, M56, A5103 Princess Parkway and M60.
There will be no overnight closure on Saturday, August 18 so that drivers travelling back from the Britney Spears and Liam Gallagher gigs at the Manchester Arena and Old Trafford Cricket Ground can use the M62 as normal.