Work to turn part of the M23 around Gatwick into a ‘smart motorway’ has reached a ‘significant milestone’, Highways England has said.
The multi-million-pound project aims to reduce congestion and help speed up journeys on an 11-mile section of the motorway.
Work on the upgrade started in June last year, and the first stage will be open for traffic next spring, Highways England said.
David Macleod, Highways England’s project manager for the M23, said: “We are making good progress on this vital upgrade for the M23. Already, we have strengthened and prepared the hard shoulder for use as a new traffic lane and are starting to install the new technology infrastructure along the motorway verges.
“Work continues on the hard shoulder, but we are also switching to the central reserve by installing a new concrete barrier, which is far safer, stronger and longer lasting than the metal one it replaces.
“The M23 is a crucial part of the UK strategic road network connecting Crawley and Gatwick Airport to the M25 motorway, routes into London and the rest of the UK.
“This marks a significant milestone for this strategically and economically important scheme and we’re on schedule to open the improved motorway to traffic by spring next year.”
Construction on the motorway will start switching from the road’s verges and into the central reservation, so the project team can continue to work to add extra lanes and new congestion-busting technology.
The switch will be carried out with a series of closures starting next week, Highways England said.
The southbound M23 will be closed between junction 8 at Mersham and junction 10 for Copthorne overnight for four nights from Monday (October 21), between 9pm until 5am each night.
A fully signed diversion will be in place via junction 6 Godstone of the M25, A22, A264 and join the M23 at junction 10.
Drivers are being advised to allow extra time for their journeys if they are using the road while diversion are in place, and to drive with extra care as the road layout changes.
What is a smart motorway?
Smart motorways add vital extra lanes to some of the country’s business motorways by converting the hard shoulder to a permanent running lane.
New signs and signals will be used to vary the speed limit to reduce congestion at busy times, and to control traffic and warn approaching drivers if there is an obstruction on the road ahead.
Eleven miles of the M23, as well as the westbound spur road to Gatwick Airport are being upgraded. The scheme will also include 12 new emergency areas with emergency roadside telephones – roughly one every 75 seconds of driving.
Traffic sensors at the side of the motorway will be used to automatically set variable speed limits to improve the flow of traffic, preventing tailbacks and stop-start conditions caused by sudden braking.
New CCTV cameras will also provide extensive coverage of the motorway to help Highways England’s traffic officers and the emergency services respond quickly to incidents, with frequent emergency area giving drivers a safe place to stop if they break down.
More details on the project can be found at: https://highwaysengland.co.uk/projects/m23-junctions-8-to-10-smart-motorway.