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A £100m upgrade to improve more than 120,000 journeys a day on the M6 in the Midlands is now fully open to traffic.
Motorists and hauliers will benefit from the new stretch of smart motorway between junctions 11a (Cannock) and 13 (Stafford), with 4 lanes running at up to 70mph.
Transport Minister Andrew Jones said:
The start of full smart motorway running on this section of the M6 will improve journeys for all those who rely on this route. Smart motorways are part of our £15 billion road investment strategy. They are just one of the ways in which we are improving the road network, reducing congestion and keeping Britain moving. By improving connections between Birmingham, London and Manchester, we are helping ensure people up and down the UK benefit from our investment in more reliable, safer roads.
Smart motorways use the latest technology to monitor traffic levels and variable speed limits on overhead electronic signs keep vehicles moving, improving the reliability of journeys.
Highways England project manager Dave Cooke said:
The extra lane between junctions 11a and 13 adds valuable extra capacity which will really help traffic at busy times. It follows the upgrade introduced last summer between junctions 10a and 11a; together this will help improve journeys for millions of people every month.
The technology means we can vary the speed limit to smooth the flow of traffic at busy times, this also helps prevent congestion caused by stop-start braking which causes queues to build at higher speeds.
It has taken more than a million hours of work, 54,000 tonnes of road surface and 55 miles of cabling to transform the busy 10 mile stretch between junctions 10a and 13.
The first part of the scheme, a 3.4mile section between junctions 10a and 11, has been open since September 2015. This section has three traffic lanes and a hard shoulder.
The 6.8miles from junction 11a to junction 13 has 4 lanes open permanently.
More than 500,000 square metres of road surface has been laid as part of the combined improvements – enough to cover 70 football pitches. This has included resurfacing 350,000 square metres of carriageway (equivalent to 49 football pitches).
On top of that, engineers have used 22,000 cubic metres of concrete, enough to fill 10 Olympic swimming pools, and installed 213 new signs along the route.
Of the million-plus man hours worked (1,107,935), around 300,000 hours were done overnight, with more than 300 staff working on the project in total.
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.