Drivers on the M25 are benefiting from 38 miles of increased capacity as two major improvement schemes are complete on time and ahead of the Olympics.
Two sections of the motorway, in Hertfordshire and Essex, have been widened.
An extra fourth lane has been added in each direction between junctions 16 (Uxbridge/M40) and 23 (South Mimms/A1) and between junctions 27 (Epping/M11) and 30 (Thurrock/A13).
Roads Minister Mike Penning said: “The delivery of these major improvement schemes is part of the Government’s £3bn investment in the strategic road network. Significantly these improvements have been completed ahead of the London 2012 Games.
“Our motorways are the backbone of Britain, getting people to and from work, powering the economy and keeping families connected. Increasing capacity on the M25 will tackle congestion, help keep traffic moving and improve journey time reliability.”
A ceremony attended by local dignitaries was held today to mark the completion of the work on one of Europe’s busiest motorways.
Highways Agency Chief Executive Graham Dalton said: “Transport is vital to securing the UK’s long-term prosperity, and the Highways Agency is a world class roads operator. Congestion on our major roads is frustrating for road users, bad for the economy and damaging to the environment – and that is why we are doing everything we can to tackle it. Overall these schemes will reduce congestion, improving the reliability of journey times and safety for road users.”
The schemes were completed as part of the £6.2 billion M25 Design Build Finance and Operate contract awarded to private sector consortium Connect Plus in May 2009.
Connect Plus Chief Executive Tim Jones said: “The delivery of these major improvement schemes demonstrates the professionalism, dedication and ingenuity of all of our people. They should be justifiably proud of their achievements.”
Work on the first section of widening between Junctions 16 and 18 began in May 2009; and two months later the junction 27-30 work started.
Throughout the work temporary narrow lanes were used to create a safe working environment while keeping three lanes open to traffic in both direction at all peak times
The widening projects have seen more than 11 million man hours worked; and the installation of 125 gantries, including the largest in single span gantry in Europe. Around 130,000 trees, shrubs and plants have been planted and more than 2,800 animals moved to new habitats.
One of the project’s greatest achievements has been the use of recycled material in the construction of the additional lanes. At least 90% of the aggregates used in the widening has been recycled.