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Major construction work on a vital £88.6 million scheme to increase capacity, reduce congestion and improve safety on the M4 and M5 near Bristol was officially started by Roads Minister Mike Penning

When the scheme is complete in spring 2014, road users will benefit from improved journey times thanks to the use of variable speed limits to smooth out traffic flows and opening up the hard shoulder as an extra traffic lane.

The managed motorway scheme - the first of its kind in the South West - on the busy Almondsbury Interchange will cover 3.4 miles of the M4 between junctions 19 and 20 and 3.1 miles of the M5 between Junction 15 and Junction 17.

It is one of 20 major road improvement projects due to start construction before March 2015, as part of a £2.1bn Government package of strategic road projects to boost the economy.

Roads Minister Mike Penning said:

"While this will be the South West's first managed motorway, experience on the M42 and M6 around Birmingham, shows that managed motorways deliver significant safety and journey time benefits. That's why I am delighted that work is getting underway today to provide much-needed additional capacity on the M4 and M5 near Bristol, for more than 140,000 road users who travel on these motorways every day.

"This start of work shows the Government delivering on its promise to invest in transport schemes that reduce congestion, improve safety, and support economic growth. The Highways Agency is ensuring value for money and making excellent progress against its commitment to reduce the cost of major capital projects by 20 per cent across the roads programme.

"The scheme will bring economic growth to the South West and is great news for jobs as well, with around 200 people working on this project at the height of construction."


Work on the M4 and M5 will include strengthening the hard shoulder, building emergency refuge areas, installing gantries and electronic signs, and installing sensors in the road to measure traffic flow. CCTV cameras will also be installed to monitor the motorway and emergency refuge areas.

Paul Unwin, Highways Agency Senior Project Manager who was also responsible for overseeing delivery of the first managed motorway schemes around Birmingham on the M42 and M6, said:

"The improvements to these sections of motorway near Bristol are greatly needed and will make journeys better for regular commuters, business users and for those travelling on holiday or shopping trips.

"In order to minimise delays to road users, we are carrying out this work in phases, starting on the M4 section, and keeping three lanes available to traffic in both directions at peak times throughout the construction. A reduced speed limit of 50mph will be in place 24-7, enforced with average speed safety cameras, to ensure the safety of road users and our workforce.

"We are working closely with residents in the area and in November last year we held public exhibitions to explain the scheme and answer questions. We will continue to keep them and road users updated as work progresses."

Preparatory work - including site clearance and the installation of CCTV cameras started in November 2011.

 

Written by Scott Buckler
Thursday, 26 January 2012 11:11

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