Drivers have been promised smoother and safer journeys along the M62 near Huddersfield.

And they can at last drive free from roadworks and 50mph limits.

The pledge came from highways bosses as they finally celebrated the end of a £133m managed motorway scheme, which has seen roadworks for almost two years.

Work on the stretch from Brighouse to Rothwell has been completed ahead of schedule and below budget.

It means drivers using one of the busiest stretches of motorway in the country can use the hard shoulder at peak times to ease traffic jams – a notorious feature of the M62.

The Highways Agency has lifted the last temporary 50mph speed restrictions on the remaining two sections between Junctions 28 and 30, marking an end to the work which started in October 2011.

The work to upgrade 15.5 miles of the M62 between Jct 25 at Brighouse and Jct 30 at Rothwell, was due to be completed by the end of October 2013.

However the Highways Agency, working closely with its contractor bmJV, has been able to complete the work more than a month early and at a cost of £17m less than the projected total of £150m.

Roads minister Stephen Hammond said: “I am delighted that road users in West Yorkshire and beyond are able to benefit from the improvements earlier than planned, and at a lower cost to the taxpayer than originally forecast.

“This is the first motorway of its kind in the North of England, and reducing congestion on this key route will deliver significant economic benefits.”

The improvements to the M62 have seen the use of a range of smart technology to reduce congestion and smooth the flow of traffic.

During busy periods, operators in the regional control centre in Wakefield set overhead message signs to tell drivers they can use the hard shoulder as an extra lane and at what speed to drive.

M62 managed motorway signage
M62 managed motorway signage
 

Lane closure information (such as a red X) is also displayed as needed in the event of an incident or roadworks.

When the hard shoulder is not open to traffic (shown by a blank signal over the hard shoulder or red X), it is illegal to use, unless in an emergency.

Highways Agency project manager David Pilsworth said: “The improvements we have brought to the M62 demonstrate how a smart and efficient solution can deliver the improvements that road users need – more capacity and better management of traffic to reduce congestion and make journey times more reliable.

“We worked to upgrade over 15 miles of the motorway, and with 144,000 vehicles using this stretch every day, we had the challenge of ensuring that we kept traffic moving while making sure the construction timetable was met.

“This makes it all the more remarkable that our contractors have been able to finish earlier than planned.”