ROAD chiefs are holding a public information event today (September 19) on plans to convert a large stretch of the M3 into a smart motorway.

Highways England are due to begin preparation work on the all-lane system in winter and spring from junction nine for Winnall to junction 14 to connect with the M27, which is currently undergoing a similar scheme.

Residents will be able to talk with officers from the government-owned company about the project at Winchester Discovery Centre in Jewry Street from 12pm to 7pm.

The main construction is due to begin next year, with a completion expected in 2022.

This schedule would see the work overlap with the latter stages of introducing a smart motorway on the M27.

Discussing the need for the scheme, Highways England say: "The M3 motorway is a key part of the strategic road network and provides a vital economic link from the Midlands (via the A34) and London to the major ports of Southampton and Portsmouth on the south coast (via the M27).

"This route is heavily used by cars and freight, and faces congestion during peak travel hours caused by the volume of traffic using the network. In 2036, this section of the M3 (junction 9 to 14) is forecast to carry an average of between 63,000 and 86,000 vehicles per day, which is an increase of 20,000 vehicles compared 2015. Adding this additional infrastructure will enable forecast levels of traffic to flow freely on this section of the M3."