Concrete barriers to boost safety on the M3

National Highways has started work to install a concrete central barrier on a section of the M3 in Hampshire, despite shelving plans to convert the stretch to an all lane running (ALR) smart motorway.

Preliminary work to upgrade the 10-mile long steel barrier between junctions 9 and 14 has begun with a phased installation of narrow lanes, starting between junctions 12 and 14, creating a safe working area in the central reservation. Work in the central reservation itself is due to start at the end of the month.

Millat Ahmed, who is overseeing the upgrades, said: ‘This is an important safety upgrade and is a huge benefit to road users.’

National Highways said concrete central barriers are stronger than metal ones and significantly reduce the risk of vehicles crossing over from one carriageway to another.

In 2019, the chief executive of what was then Highways England, Jim O’Sullivan, described them as ‘one of the biggest single innovations in recent years that has made a huge difference to the safety of any road’.

National Highways added that concrete barriers are also virtually maintenance free and will last twice as long as metal barriers.

This section of the motorway was the first planned conversion to ALR to be paused following a recommendation from the Transport Select Committee last November.

However, the Government said it would continue with the installation of concrete barriers and other safety features both on paused schemes to convert conventional motorways to ALR and conversions to ALR of dynamic hard shoulder schemes, which were also paused.

During the works three slightly narrowed lanes, including the hard shoulder, will remain open and there will be a reduced speed limit of 50mph, CCTV coverage and a free recovery service.

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