HIGHWAYS bosses are seeking the views of businesses and residents on how the proposed introduction of variable speeds will be implemented through a smart motorway a large section of the M3 in Hampshire.

Plans are reaching the final stages for the major scheme between junction nine for Winnall and junction 14 for the M27.

Highways England has now launched a public consultation on using technology which can vary speed limits on the motorway to deliver the benefits they claim the scheme will deliver.

Preparatory work on the project is due to take place in winter/ spring 2020 before the main work begins, with completion currently scheduled for 2022. The main change from the current layout will see the hard shoulder converted into a running lane between junction nine and 13 to create ‘all-lane running’ on both carriageways.

Highways England’s consultation document says: “We are keen to have your comments on the proposal to introduce variable mandatory speed limits on the M3 between junctions nine and 14.

“We specifically would like to hear how the proposal could affect you, your organisation or those you represent.”

The project is part of the third phase of Highways England’s smart motorway programme, alongside developments on the M1, M23, M62 and nearby M27, which is currently ongoing.

Both the work on the M3 and M27 are set to overlap next year, with engineers not due to complete work on the road between Southampton and Portsmouth until 2020-21.

To find out more about the work and to take part in the consultation, visit highwaysengland.citizenspace.com/he/m3-junction-9-to-14-smart-motorway.

Discussing the M3 project, Winchester and Chandler’s Ford MP Steve Brine admitted he had safety concerns about smart motorways.

“The smart motorway work at the top of the M3 has undoubtedly eased congestion, making travel easier for us and improving air quality for those living nearby,” Mr Brine. “If this work on our stretch of the same motorway can do the same, it’s to be welcomed but no-one should pretend it won’t come without serious disruption. I know Highways England are working hard to mitigate that, and keep residents informed, but you can’t avoid it entirely.

“My concern about the smart motorway programme however is around safety because I share growing concerns around safe places on motorways that have lost their hard-shoulder and Highways England must respond to them.”