WORK on a congestion busting motorway project began on the M62 yesterday.
The Managed Motorway scheme is set to tackle the notorious stretch from Brighouse to Leeds by opening up the hard-shoulder to traffic.
Overhead gantries will also be installed to allow variable speed limits to be enforced.
It is hoped the two changes will smooth out traffic flows, improving journey times on the constantly jammed 15.5mile stretch.
Road chiefs have claimed the £150m project will be half as expensive as widening the road and will take half as long to complete.
But the project – the first of its kind in the north of the country – means commuters travelling between Huddersfield and Leeds face several years of roadworks.
The scheme is one of 14 due to start before 2015, being delivered as part of a £1.4bn Government package of road projects to boost the economy. Roads Minister Mike Penning, said: “While this will be Yorkshire’s first managed motorway, experience elsewhere in the country shows that they deliver significant safety and journey time benefits.
“That’s why I am delighted work is getting under way to provide much-needed additional capacity for more than 140,000 road users who travel on this key route daily.
“This start of work shows the Government is delivering on its promise to invest in transport schemes that reduce congestion, improve safety, and support economic growth.
“It’s also good news for jobs. At the height of construction around 400 people will be working on this scheme.”
The first phase of construction will focus on the stretch between junction 27 at Gildersome and junction 28 at Tingley, with construction on other sections starting in phases from next month.
The scheme will include overhead gantries and the construction of emergency refuge areas alongside the hard shoulder.
Three lanes will be kept available for traffic in both directions during the works with a 50mph speed limit, enforced with average speed cameras, in place for the safety of road users and the workforce.
Some overnight lane closures will be required during the scheme and full motorway closures (normally overnight) will be required from Spring next year for gantry installation.
Work on the scheme is expected to be completed in October 2013.
More information about the scheme can be found on the Highways Agency website at www.highways.gov.uk/m62yorkshiremm
Meanwhile, a separate motorway lighting improvement scheme is set to begin near Huddersfield next month.
Work to install new lighting between Junction 22 at Rishworth Moor and Junction 24 at Ainley Top is due to start on November 7.
The five-month-long project will see the speed limit cut to 50mph.