Press release

Weekend testing on the M6 near Birmingham ahead of smart motorway opening

The Highways Agency is to carry out tests on a section of smart motorway in Birmingham which is scheduled to become operational by the beginning of March.


Hard shoulder running tests will be carried out on Sunday (23 February) between junction 6 at the Gravelly Hill interchange and junction 8 Ray Hall interchange at Great Barr on the M6.

Highways Agency traffic officer vehicles will be used to check CCTV camera positions are correct so the agency’s Regional Control Centre has good visibility of the whole stretch.

If tests are successful, the smart motorway scheme, which uses electronic gantry signs to display variable speed limits and open up the hard shoulder as an additional traffic lane during busy periods, will open between junctions 6 and 8 from Saturday 1 March.

Tests are scheduled on the remainder of this scheme, between junction 5 at Castle Bromwich and junction 6, from 30 March, with full opening anticipated in early April prior to the Easter break.

Three live lanes will continue to be in operation during the tests.

Rob Edwards, project manager for the scheme, said:

Having recently lifted traffic management between junctions 6 and 8, motorists have already started to benefit from this scheme nearing completion.

Provided we are satisfied the control centre has complete visual coverage of the hard shoulder and camera alignment is correct, this section of the smart motorway will be in operation from early March.

Traffic officers in the control room will open up the hard shoulder when needed, provided the cameras show it to be clear and safe. In total, around 180 CCTV cameras will do this job between junctions 5 and 8 when the whole scheme is finished.

When fully operational, road users will benefit from a third more capacity, reduced congestion and more reliable journey times through the use of variable mandatory speed limits and opening up of the hard shoulder as an extra running lane when needed.

People can find out more about the M6 junction 5 to junction 8 project, the specific closures needed and their diversion routes by visiting the scheme’s website or by calling the Highways Agency Information Line (HAIL) on 0300 123 5000.

General enquiries

Members of the public should contact the Highways Agency Information Line on 0300 123 5000

Media enquiries

Journalists should contact the Highways Agency press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer

Published 20 February 2014