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PS100m smart motorway to tackle M6 congestion; New stretch of four-lane carriageways and variable speed limits.

Byline: Graeme Brown Head of Business graeme.brown@trinitymirror.com

MILES of new 'smart motorway' in the West Midlands have been opened in a bid to ease gridlock.

Ministers claim a PS100 million upgrade of the M6 through South Staffordshire should improve more than 120,000 of the most tortuous journeys every day.

There will now be four lanes of smart motorway, with variable speed limits up to 70mph, between junctions 11a (Cannock) and 13 (Stafford).

The effect should be to ease the flow of traffic and the speed with which jams can build.

Transport Minister Andrew Jones said: "The start of the full smart motorway running on this section of the M6 will improve journeys for all those who rely on this route.

"By improving connections between Birmingham, London and Manchester, we are helping ensure people up and down the UK benefit from our investment in more reliable roads."

The latest announcement will effectively mean an extra lane on that busy stretch of the M6.

Smart motorways use the latest technology to monitor traffic levels and variable speed limits on overhead electronic signs keep vehicles moving, improving the reliability of journeys.

It has taken more than a million hours of work, 54,000 tonnes of road surface and 55 miles of cabling to transform the busy 10-mile stretch between junctions 10a and 13.

The route between junction 10a to 11a was improved last summer.

Highways England project manager Dave Cooke said: "The extra lane between junctions 11a and 13 adds valuable extra capacity which will really help traffic at busy times. It follows the upgrade introduced last summer between junctions 10a and 11a.

"Together this will help improve journeys for millions of people every month.

"The technology means we can vary the speed limit to smooth the flow of traffic at busy times. This also helps prevent congestion caused by stop-start braking which causes queues to build at higher speeds."

The first part of the M6 smart motorway scheme, a 3.4-mile section between junctions 10a and 11, has been open since September.

However, while this section has three traffic lanes and a hard shoulder, the 6.8 miles from junction 11a to junction 13 has four lanes open permanently.

More than 123 acres of road surface has been laid as part of the combined improvements. This has included resurfacing 86 acres of carriageway - the equivalent to 49 football pitches.

Engineers used enough concrete to fill 10 Olympic swimming pools, installed 213 new signs along the route.

Last week, the M6 northbound was closed for 22 hours after a fatal accident between junction 5 and 6 of the motorway, which led to some motorists being stuck for more than eight hours.

The start of the full smart motorway will improve journeys for all those who rely on this routeTransport Minister Andrew Jones, above

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A new stretch of smart motorway has been opened in South Staffordshire

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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Feb 11, 2016
Words:488
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