M3 junctions 2 to 4a: smart motorway

Making improvements to the M3 by constructing a smart motorway between junctions 2 and 4a. This section of the M3 is used by 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
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've introduced new CCTV cameras which will be in operation 24-hours‚Äďa-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

Environmental Assessment Report

The Environmental Assessment Report is now available to view and copies are available upon request. please contact the project team by either telephone at 0300 123 5000 or email M3Junction2to4aSmartMotorways@highwaysengland.co.uk.

Community news

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

During construction we undertook various charitable and voluntary projects, including:

  • raising ¬£2,450 from various events
  • donating to some of our nominated charities: Creating Futures, Save the Children, The Princes Trust and East Anglian Air Ambulance
  • continuing to support Creating Futures, a local charity working with young disadvantaged children
  • rescuing an injured swan and making contact with the Swan Support Organisation which resulted in getting its injuries healed
  • giving a presentation to 150 senior school students at Hall Manor School on the running of a major civil engineering project
  • assisting at a Child Safety Event organised by the Rushmoor Voluntary Services
  • assisting with an Enterprise day at the Wavell School where pupils took part in a Dragons' Den type exercise
  • assisting with mock interviews at Calthorpe Park School to help school children gain valuable interview skills preparing them for later life and their future careers
  • organising an outdoor classroom for Fernhill School in partnership with Fluor Construction and TAG Europe
  • holding an art competition with local schools where 12 winning pictures, chosen by the M3 team, were used in the 2016 M3 project calendar
  • presenting to parents and students at a local school on the demolition of Woodlands Lane Bridge

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

We provided several opportunities as part of the M3 project, including:

  • supporting 21 of our colleagues to achieve their NVQ qualification
  • providing 12 work experience placements for students aged 14-19, one of which was offered a trainee role within the Health, Safety and Environment team
  • supporting one of our cleaning staff to gain a permanent role within the project team
  • appointing two trainee lab technicians
  • setting up 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%.

We take the concerns of residents very seriously and have considered 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:

  • maintained 3 lanes of traffic on both carriageways
  • had a 50mph speed limit in place for safety
  • provided a free recovery service for those in need through the works
  • limited full closures to a minimum and managing when full closures took place to avoid conflicting with local events

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

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

Environment impact

Our Environment Team worked with a full-time ecologist on this project. We worked together to protect wildlife located within the works area.

Wildlife found on site alongside the M3 junctions 2 to 4a smart motorway project and successfully relocated or removed included:

  • 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 gained approval from Surrey Wildlife Trust and Natural England to carry out small amounts of work within Chobham Common.

We carefully planned to make sure there were no negative impacts on the common due to construction works, without delaying our construction programme.

Our contractor Balfour Beatty:

  • established links with 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 produced some formal reports on environmental impact. You can find these under Documents below.

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 . Lane Closures : Lanes 1 and 2 are closed. Reason : Emergency barrier repairs. Status : Currently Active. Period : expect disruption until 05:00 on 22 January 2020. Lanes Closed : There are two of four lanes closed.
Posted: January 21, 2020, 10:03 pm
Location : The M3 westbound entry slip at junction J3 . Lane Closures : Lane one will be closed. Reason : Roadworks are planned. Status : Pending. Schedule : From 21:00 on 23 January 2020 to 06:00 on 24 January 2020. Lanes Closed : All lanes will be closed.
Posted: January 17, 2020, 2:36 pm


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