Tests have begun on a £7m Highways England pilot project to reduce congestion on the M62 using electronic information signs and variable mandatory speed limits, combined with traffic lights on the motorway link roads from the M6.
Electronic signs on the eastbound M62 near Warrington in Cheshire will be used with traffic lights on link road slip roads from the M6 to smooth drivers' journeys. At peak times drivers around the Croft Interchange may be required to stop at traffic lights when leaving the M6 at the end of the slip road onto the eastbound M62.
The new motorway to motorway system will be introduced around the Croft Interchange in two phases and involved installing some of the largest gantries ever used in the region to carry the electronic signs – crossing up to 10 lanes of traffic.
Highways England said in a statement that electronic variable message signs will be introduced first and drivers travelling between junction 9 and junction 11 of the eastbound M62 will start to see the signs in operation displaying mandatory variable speed limits and other information such as warnings of congestion.
The second phase of the scheme will see the traffic lights switched on at the end of the link roads onto the eastbound M62. Traffic leaving the M6 will be closely monitored and the lights will be controlled to minimise queuing onto the M6.
Andy Withington, Highways England’s programme delivery manager for the North West, said: 'This is an opportunity to combine existing technology and traffic management systems in a novel way to see whether we can give drivers using the frequently congested eastbound M62, lower journey times during peak hours and smoother, more reliable journeys.
'Once the system is fully up and running we’ll be monitoring its use over a period of up to a year. If it is successful – and we believe it will be – it could well be used on other motorway to motorway link roads across the country.'
Money for the project is coming from a £150m innovation fund, part of the £15bn allocated to Highways England under the Road Investment Strategy.