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Could they be over-sized hockey sticks? Or super-huge candy canes ready for Christmas? Highways England’s mysterious new structures are getting drivers talking.
In fact they are the bases for five giant electronic signs going up on the M60 and the M62 as part of the smart motorway scheme. Once complete they will keep drivers updated on incidents, breakdowns and traffic information.
Three of the eight-metre-high poles for the signs are already in place. Each will be topped by a 1.5 tonne variable message sign, 4.5 metres wide and 3.5 metres high, at a later date.
Drivers can see the posts on the eastbound carriageway of the M62 near junction 18 (M60/M66 junction), on the clockwise carriageway of the M60 near junction 8 (Carrington), and on the clockwise carriageway of the M60 near junction 14 (St Helens).
The 2 remaining posts will go up in the new year on the anti-clockwise carriageway of the M60 at junction 15 (M61 junction), and on the clockwise carriageway of the M60 between junctions 12 (M62 junction) and 13 (Worsley).
Highways England project manager Paul Hampson said:
Currently only the poles are in place and we thought drivers might be curious as to what they are for. The electronic signs that attach to the poles will be going up at a later date. Once the smart motorway scheme is up and running, we’re confident that road users will find the additional traffic information invaluable.
The electronic signs will help drivers to make informed decisions about their journeys. This improves safety and helps to keep traffic moving.
The £202 million smart motorway scheme between junction 8 of the M60 near Sale and junction 20 of the M62 near Rochdale will see the latest technology being used to monitor traffic levels and keep vehicles moving by using variable speed limits.
The hard shoulder will also be permanently converted into an extra lane to increase capacity between junctions 18 and 20 on the M62.
When the scheme is completed in autumn 2017, around 200 new electronic message signs on overhead gantries will warn drivers of changes in the mandatory speed limit, lane closures and incidents ahead.
The 5 giant electronic signs will provide additional information at strategic points along the route.
To stay up to date with the latest developments, visit the scheme website.
Members of the public should contact the Highways England customer contact centre on 0300 123 5000.
Journalists should contact the Highways England press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer.