New "smart motorway" systems tested on M5

THE HIGHWAYS Agency has started testing the newly-installed smart motorway systems on the hard shoulder of the M5 today.

The hard shoulder will be opened up under trial conditions for the first time on the M5, between Junctions 15 and 17.

This follows on from the successful trials on the M4 during November and marks a significant step towards the final completion of the scheme.

Testing will take place for short periods during off peak times from Wednesday 18 to Friday 20 December inclusive.

Testing of the systems during off peak conditions allows the agency to check the technology is fully working ahead of full operation on this section of the M5.

Once all the tests are completed successfully, the smart motorway system will become operational during peak traffic conditions during January.

This will bring noticeable benefits to road users and improved journey time reliability around two months ahead of schedule.

Highways Agency assistant project manager, Adrian Hull, said: “We would like to thank drivers again for their patience while the scheme was under construction and trust they are starting to see the early benefits of variable speed limits and using the hard shoulder during busy periods on the M4.

“Of course, road users will not see the full effect and benefits of the smart motorway until full completion next month, which includes the M5. Once fully operational, the smart motorway scheme will help to reduce congestion, make journey times more reliable, and improve safety.

“In the meantime, we urge road users to familiarise themselves with what to look out for, to follow the overhead signs, and remind them that the hard shoulder can only be legally used by motorists as a running lane when a speed limit is displayed above it. Otherwise it is for emergency purposes only.”

The M4/M5 scheme will be the first smart motorway in the South West region. The value of the contract awarded to Balfour Beatty on 26 October 2011 is £77.6m.

The estimated outturn cost of the M4/M5 project, including construction and technology is £88.6m including an estimated £15.5m of savings.

For further information on the M4 and M5 smart motorway scheme, visit http://www.highways.gov.uk/our-road-network/managing-our-roads/improving-our-network/managed-motorways

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