THERE could be an end in sight for motorway misery for thousands of Huddersfield drivers.
Work on a new scheme to ease congestion on the busiest stretch of the M62 is set to start in the autumn.
The £150m project – which will see the hard shoulder opened up to traffic – is set to come into use from 2013.
But there could be disruption for drivers as work is carried out on the preparations for the scheme over the next 15 months.
Special emergency refuges have to be built alongside the existing eastbound carriageway between Junction 25 at Brighouse and Junction 30 at Rothwell.
The hard shoulder from Junction 25 to Junction 26 at Chain Bar will be used at all times.
That stretch carries tens of thousands of vehicles each day and is often plagued by massive traffic jams.
On other stretches, there will be hard shoulder running at peak times.
Overhead gantries will be erected to aid lane management.
The contract to transform the 15.5 mile stretch of the M62 to a managed motorway with hard shoulder running was awarded yesterday by the Highways Agency. Joint venture bmJV, consisting of BAM Nuttall and Morgan Sindall, have been awarded the construction contract.
The scheme aims to cut congestion and improve journey times and safety through the use of variable mandatory speed limits and opening the hard shoulder as an extra traffic lane.
The work is due to start between October and December with the scheme open to traffic in 2013-14.
Roads Minister Mike Penning said: “I welcome today’s contract award which confirms that the Highways Agency is on track to start work on this important scheme on time and is making excellent progress against its commitment to reduce the cost of major capital projects by 20% across the roads programme.
“The £150m investment will provide much needed additional capacity, easing congestion and making journey times more reliable for more than 140,000 road users.
“Our experience elsewhere shows that managed motorways deliver significant safety and journey time benefits. That’s why the Government has committed to start work on 11 managed motorway schemes by 2015, including on the M62.”
Construction costs will be £136m with the other money for fees and costs.
Managed motorways use a range of innovative technology combined with new operating procedures to actively control traffic flow.
Techniques such as varying the speed limits, opening up the hard shoulder to traffic or limiting access to the motorway from slip roads at peak times are features of managed motorways all designed to improve traffic flow and reduce congestion.
A pilot scheme on the M42 east of Birmingham showed a fall in accidents and improved journey times.
WHAT happens on a Managed Motorway?
The hard shoulder can be used for traffic at all times if there is a relatively short distance between junctions, as with the Junction 25 to 26 stretch on the M62.
Emergency refuges, with phones, are built at frequent intervals alongside the hard shoulder for breakdowns or accidents.
Overhead gantries fitted with cameras allow Highways Agency staff to monitor traffic more easily.
They can advise of lane closures by using red crosses in the signs on the gantries.
Variable speed limits will see mandatory limits of 40mph or 50mph used to reduce the stop-start effect of traffic at busy times.
A 50mph limit will be in use while work goes ahead on the M62 scheme throughout 2012. Lane closures will only take place overnight with advanced warning.