M3 junctions 2-4a: smart motorwayRecently updated

We are currently making improvements to the M3 by constructing a smart motorway between junctions 2 and 4a. This section of the M3 is used over 130,000 vehicles a day and sees higher than normal levels of congestion at peak times.

Region:  South East
Start date:  18 February 2015
Cost:  £174 million
Status:  CURRENT
Type:  Major Scheme
End date:  June 2017
Programme:  Smart Motorways

Progress report

The upgraded M3 smart motorway is now fully operating at speeds up to 70mph.

On Friday 30 June 2017, we opened the M3 as a four-lane smart motorway between junction 4a for Farnborough and junction 2 for the M25, the speed limit was initially manually controlled at 50mph while testing of the smart motorway technology was finalised. This process has now been successfully completed enabling us to operate at the national speed limit.

The smart motorway upgrade has added an extra lane in both directions along a 13.4 mile section of the motorway, with emergency areas installed throughout the length of the scheme.

We have introduced new CCTV cameras which will be in operation 24-hours–a-day, and electronic information signs and signals on gantries, which will show the variable mandatory speed limits and manage traffic flow and incidents. This will improve journeys by reducing congestion and enabling drivers to benefit from smoother and more reliable journeys on this vital route.

Smart motorways have been designed to be intuitive to drive on. Normal motorway rules apply:

  • keep left unless overtaking
  • drive within the speed limit and never drive in a lane closed by a Red X
  • even without a hard shoulder, there are safe places to stop on average every 75 seconds of driving

What's next

As well as the smart motorway upgrade, we have also been carrying out the most extensive maintenance on the M3 since it was first built in 1971, fully resurfacing the motorway and its slip roads and restoring it to an ‘as new’ condition.

By carrying out this work alongside the smart motorway project we can avoid returning to this stretch of motorway for more maintenance in future. This is less disruptive and more cost effective than doing the work separately and will minimise future disruption to residents and the travelling public in the area.

We have delivered most of this additional work in parallel with the smart motorway works. However the work to reconstruct Woodlands Lane Bridge and other minor work on the M3 will continue. We will be using overnight lane and carriageway closures to complete the work and expect to open the new Woodlands Lane Bridge by winter 2017/18.

Community news

The M3 project is a member of the Community Matters Partnership Project (CMPP). The CMPP is a collaboration of socially responsible, caring organisations who founded this project to make a lasting difference in the local community.

We want to give back to the community while we are here and since starting construction, we have undertaken various charitable and voluntary projects.

So far we have:

  • raised a total of £2450 over the last year from various fund raising events
  • donated to some of our nominated charities: Creating Futures charity - Save the Children - The Princes Trust and East Anglian Air Ambulance
  • continued to support Creating Futures, a local charity working with young disadvantaged children
  • rescued an injured swan and made contact with the Swan Support Organization which resulted in getting it’s injuries healed
  • gave a presentation to 150 senior school students at Hall Manor School on the running of a major civil engineering project
  • assisted at a Child Safety Event organised by the Rushmoor Voluntary Services
  • assisted with an Enterprise day at the Wavell School where pupils took part in a Dragons Den type exercise
  • assisted with mock interviews at Calthorpe Park School to help school children gain valuable interview skills preparing them for later life and their future careers
  • organised an outdoor classroom for Fernhill School in partnership with Fluor Construction and TAG Europe
  • held an art competition with local schools where twelve winning pictures, chosen by the M3 team were used in the 2016 M3 project calendar
  • presented to parents and students at a local school on the demolition of Woodlands Lane Bridge

In addition, the project has been awarded National Skills Academy status supported by Highways England and managed by the Construction Industry Training Board. The National Skills Academy for Construction is a project-based training concept.

We have provided several opportunities as part of the M3 project. So far we have:

  • supported 21 of our colleagues to achieve their NVQ qualification
  • provided 12 work experience placements for students aged 14-19, one of which was offered a trainee role within the Health, Safety & Environment team
  • supported one of our cleaning staff to gain a permanent role within the project team
  • appointed two young trainee lab technicians
  • setup a special needs placement programme

The Academy creates apprenticeships and work experience opportunities and encourages engagement with schools and colleges to promote careers in the construction industry. The project is continually audited by the Construction Industry Training Board and on our most recent audit we received a score of 94% out of a possible 100%!.

We take the concerns of residents very seriously and we have made sure we consider impacts upon the community in the project's ongoing development and design.

In order to build the scheme with as little negative impact as possible we are:

  • maintaining 3 lanes of traffic on both carriageways
  • have a 50mph speed limit in place for safety
  • providing a free recovery service for those in need through the works
  • limiting full closures to a minimum and managing when full closures take place to avoid conflicting with local events

In order to help keep traffic moving through the works, we employ a 24/7 CCTV system with full coverage throughout the scheme in order to pick up any incidents, accidents or vehicle breakdowns. All vehicles are recovered free of charge and as quickly as possible by our dedicated on-site vehicle recovery service. Drivers and their passengers are taken to our customer care centre where they can wait in a safe, comfortable environment, while making arrangements for their onward journey.

The project is also registered with the Considerate Constructors Scheme which was established to improve the image of construction. The project has audits throughout the year to assess what the project is continually doing to be a considerate constructor.

Environment impact

Our Environment Team works with a full-time ecologist on this project. We work together to protect wildlife located within the works area. Wildlife that has been found on site alongside the M3 junctions 2 to 4a smart motorway project and successfully relocated or removed is as follows:
  • slow worms (translocated to Chobham Common)
  • smooth newts (relocated to Hawley Meadows)
  • grass snakes (moved to safe/suitable location behind environmental barrier)
  • badgers - badger sett closed off using one way badger gates
We have gained approval from Surrey Wildlife Trust and Natural England to carry out small amounts of work within Chobham Common. We have carefully planned to make sure there are no negative impacts on the common due to construction works, without delaying our construction programme. The Site of Special Scientific Interest status of the common extends onto the motorway verge. Following works on these verges, Surrey Wildlife Trust will supply seeds from the common to add to the grass seed mix we will use for the verge. This will replenish the verge and maintain these important habitats. Our contractor Balfour Beatty has:
  • established between our contractor Balfour Beatty and the Senior Ranger of Surrey Wildlife Trust
  • carried out water monitoring on the common to demonstrate to Surrey Wildlife Trust that the water quality has not been reduced due to pollution from the motorway works
  • surveyed bird nesting sites before and during construction to show that the works were having no ill effects on protected nesting birds: woodlark, Dartford warbler and nightjar
We have produced some formal reports on environmental impact. You can find these under Publications.

The project team

  • Highways England
  • Balfour Beatty
Our contractor, tasked with delivering this project in accordance with our requirements
  • URS
  • Design engineer and our agent on-site

Project media files and documents

There are no images for this project

Project timeline

Planned roadworks

Roadworks and Events for England

The latest incident information for England's motorway and trunk routes provided by Highways England

Location : The M3 westbound between junctions J2 and J3 . Reason : Roadworks. Status : Currently Active. Period : from 22:14 on 21 August 2017 to 05:30 on 22 August 2017. Lanes Closed : All lanes are closed.
Posted: August 21, 2017, 9:15 pm
Location : The M3 eastbound between junctions J3 and J2 . Lane Closures : The hard shoulder, lanes 1, 2 and 3 are closed. Reason : Road repairs. Status : Currently Active. Period : expect disruption until 06:00 on 22 August 2017. Lanes Closed : There are three of four lanes closed.
Posted: August 21, 2017, 8:03 pm
Location : The M3 eastbound between junctions J3 and J2 . Reason : Road repairs. Status : Currently Active. Period : expect disruption until 05:30 on 22 August 2017. Lanes Closed : All lanes are closed.
Posted: August 21, 2017, 7:54 pm
Location : The M3 eastbound entry slip at junction J3 . Reason : Roadworks. Status : Currently Active. Period : from 20:51 on 21 August 2017 to 05:30 on 22 August 2017. Lanes Closed : All lanes are closed.
Posted: August 21, 2017, 7:53 pm


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