The Highways Agency project will introduce variable speed limit technology and hard shoulder running to create a so-called ‘smart’ motorway.
The M3 between Junction 2 (interchange with the M25) and Junction 4a (Fleet) will be upgraded to a four-lane motorway by converting the hard shoulder to a permanent running lane. Electronic signs, operated by a regional control centre, will be installed to manage the flow of traffic in response to driving conditions.
Mobilisation work begins next week and main construction starts in the autumn. Completion is scheduled for spring 2017.
The M3 passes through Chobham Common, one of the largest areas of heathland in Surrey, and Balfour Beatty’s design has to take into account ecological considerations with natural habitats reinstated and enhanced.
Balfour Beatty has done well winning smart motorway work since its appointment to the Highways Agency's national major projects framework in 2010. So far this year it has: completed the upgrade of parts of the M4 and M5 to a smart motorway in a £88m scheme; and in joint venture with Skanska completed the upgrade of a 12 mile stretch of the M25. Last month it was also awarded the lead role on the £184m M60 J8 to M62 J20 smart motorway scheme. (See previous report here.)
While smart motorways are controversial in some quarters for doing away with hard shoulders, Balfour Beatty executive chairman Steve Marshall is a fan of them. "The Highways Agency’s approach to using technology in this way reduces the costs of the road network, provides additional capacity and improves journey times,” he said.