M6 junction 2 to junction 4: smart motorway

Improving the busy 13.6 mile (22km) stretch of the M6 between junction 2 at Coventry and junction 4 near Coleshill by upgrading it to an all-lane running smart motorway.

Start date 2017-18
End date March 2020
Cost £155 million to £234 million

Latest updates

  • 22 April 2020

    Scheme open to traffic on 12 March 2020

    Over the last two years, we’ve been improving the busy 11.8 mile (19km) stretch of the M6 between junction 2 at Coventry and junction 4 near Coleshill by upgrading it to an all-lane running smart motorway. Our team began advance works on the project in December 2017 and the main construction works started in March 2018. The scheme was opened to traffic on time, on 12 March 2020.

    Work started in the verges on either side of the carriageway and involved the installation of our traffic management. We put in place three narrow lanes in both directions, with a temporary safety barrier to separate the works area and the live lanes of traffic.

    In April 2018, we continued our work by removing the existing technology and gantries from the M6 to make way for the new and improved systems. We then installed new and refurbished gantries to house the technology which monitors and manages traffic flow, upgraded the existing drainage, replaced the environmental barrier and resurfaced the carriageway. Once we’d completed the first phase of our programme, we moved our work into the central reserve.

    To establish a safe working area within the centre of the motorway, we carried out a number of traffic management switches. These switches involved pushing the three narrow lanes towards the verges of the motorway. All our traffic management switches were scheduled to take place between April and October 2019. We identified an opportunity to minimise disruption to the travelling public and keep our construction programme on track by decreasing the section of road each switch covered and increasing the total number of switches. All 11 switches were completed on time which allowed traffic to travel along the newly constructed lane one in both directions.

    In December 2019, we opened a section of the smart motorway, between junctions 4 and 3 on the southbound carriageway, early. By opening up this stretch of road ahead of time, we were able to minimise disruption to the travelling public and reduce our overall costs. This section of the carriageway was open to traffic with a 70mph speed limit and all technology fully operational.

    At the same time, we opened the northbound carriageway between junctions 3 and 4, with restrictions in place. So our workforce could continue to work safely throughout the remainder of our scheme, narrow lanes and a speed limit of 50mph remained in place. We also continued to provide a free recovery service for motorists who broke down within our roadworks.

Project information

Overview

The M6 junction 2 to 4 project involved:

  • converting the hard shoulder to create a permanent fourth lane between junctions 2 and 3a
  • converting the climbing lane eastbound between junction 3a and 3 to a permanent traffic lane and retaining the hard shoulder
  • improving driver experience/consistency on the M6 northbound carriageway by retaining 3 lanes and a hard shoulder from junction 4 to junction 10a
  • installing new electronic information signs, signals and CCTV cameras which will be used to vary speed limits and manage traffic flow and incidents
  • installing 9 emergency areas for motorists to use in place of the hard shoulder
  • improving the central reserve and adding a reinforced barrier to provide better safety
  • installing new noise barriers in built up areas and laying low noise surfacing to help mitigate increases in noise generated by traffic using the new smart motorway

Motorists experienced frequent delays between junctions 2 and 4 of the M6. These delays were caused by the volume of traffic using the stretch of motorway. Our scheme has:

  • reduced congestion, by smoothing the flow of traffic to improve journey times and make them more reliable
  • maximised road capacity to support economic growth across the region
  • introduced technology that allows us to activate warning signs which alert motorists to traffic jams and hazards up ahead

Documents

Traffic information

Information about scheduled roadworks and events on our motorways and major roads.

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