Contractors have been appointed to a £2bn Highways Agency scheme to ease congestion on motorways including the M62, M6 and M60 Manchester orbital.
Under the 'managed motorways' scheme the hard shoulder will be opened to traffic at peak times to provide more reliable journey times, reduced congestion, and safer journeys.
The delivery partners appointed to the national framework contract for the first tranche of managed motorway schemes are Balfour Beatty, BAM Nuttall / Morgan Est joint venture, Carillion and Costain/Serco joint venture.
The framework contract is expected to deliver the following managed motorway schemes (subject to funding and completion of any relevant statutory processes):
- M60 J8 to J12 west Manchester
- M62 J18 to J20 north of Manchester
- M62 J25 to J30 near Bradford
- M1 J32 to J35a east of Sheffield
- M6 J5 to J8 near Walsall, Birmingham
- M4/M5 around Bristol from M4 J19 to M5 J17
Transport minister, Chris Mole, said: "Managed motorways use a range of innovative technology to improve traffic flow during busy periods. I am delighted that the Highways Agency has appointed the contractors to deliver these schemes. Doing so under one framework contract ensures greater efficiency and best value for money."
The agency said work on the schemes should start by spring 2012 at the latest but gave no firm date for hard shoulder running to begin.