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M4 plan will help ease congestion
TRAFFIC jams on the M4 near Swindon could soon be a thing of the past after it was announced work to prevent hold-ups following incidents will begin next week.
The project will involve installing an emergency gate on the motorway on the Wiltshire- Berkshire border, which will be used to release traffic should the road be closed due to an accident.
The gate, which will be installed in the central reservation between junctions 14 and 15 between Newbury and Swindon, can be opened by the Highways Agency or the emergency services to allow drivers stuck behind the scene of an incident to turn around onto the opposite carriageway.
The work will begin on Wednesday and is expected to be completed by the end of the month.
Highways Agency project manager Rob MacKenzie said : “The distance between junctions 14 and 15 is around 12 miles, which means that if an incident closes the road, a lot of drivers can become stuck on the motorway.
“This gate will allow the Highways Agency and emergency services to direct these drivers onto the opposite carriageway, where they can return to the previous junction and pick up the diversion route.
“This is part of our commitment to making sure that the M4 is as resilient as possible.”
From Wednesday, the hard shoulder on the eastbound M4 will be closed while work gets underway.
Then, from January 14, there will be narrow lanes and a 50mph speed limit on a 1.6 mile section of the road in both directions past the work site, which is just to the east of junction 15. Weather permitting, the work should be completed by January 29.
South Swindon MP Robert Buckland said he was pleased that the work would be taking place.
He said: “This is welcome news for Swindon residents and businesses who regularly use this long stretch of the M4 and who will have been caught up in long tailbacks without any way of taking an alternative route.”
North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson said: “I warmly welcome this important investment in Swindon. The M4 is a vital artery for the town, used daily by thousands of our commuters and businesses. “This is a long stretch of road without a junction, so when there’s an incident it can lead to serious delays. The new emergency gate will help to relieve some of that pressure. “I’ll always support new investment like this, which really helps Swindon and will make a difference for so many people.”