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New fourth lane opens on M3 smart motorway

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Highways England’s latest stretch of Smart Motorway opened to traffic over the weekend on the M3 through Surrey and Hampshire. Construction of the £174M project completed on time, having seen the hard shoulder on a 13.4 mile section of the motorway between Farnborough and the M25 converted to an extra traffic lane.

This new fourth lane is now open in both directions while work to test and commission the Smart Motorway technology – including gantry mounted variable message signs – is continuing for a short period.

A 50mph limit is in place for safety reasons while this work is carried out over the next three weeks. The project is due to complete in full later this month when the speed restriction will be lifted and all four lanes will operate at 70MPH in normal conditions.

“I am delighted that we’ve opened this vital motorway upgrade on time. This new stretch of Smart Motorway will tackle congestion and improve journey times for the 130,000 drivers who use it every day,” commented Highways England’s project manager Pranav Devale.

“Smart Motorways add vital extra capacity, improve journey times and maintain high levels of safety. Drivers will also see better information about conditions on the road ahead and enjoy smoother journeys on the fully resurfaced road.”

The new technology being installed on the M3 is expected to make the road more resilient to disruption, improving journeys by using variable speed limits that will help tackle stop-start traffic and giving drivers better information on conditions ahead.