A MULTI-MILLION-POUND plan to upgrade a Hampshire motorway has come under fire by two of the UK’s biggest road organisations.

The AA and safety charity Brake have said that the M27 ‘smart motorway’ scheme, which will run between Junction 4 at Eastleigh and 11 at Fareham, poses significant safety concerns.

Highways England’s £275m project starts in March 2018 and is due for completion in March 2021.

The hard shoulder will be converted into a fourth lane with the junction slip roads altered to accommodate this and put in place emergency refuge areas throughout the length of the scheme.

A statement from Meanwhile, new CCTV cameras and electronic information signs will also be installed along with signals on gantries which will show variable mandatory speed limits and manage traffic flow.

Brake said the scheme is more of a hindrance. Zariaat Mashood, from the charity, said: “We support controlled motorways with variable speed limits, it is essential that the development of Smart Motorways does not compromise road safety.

“Although we welcome the introduction of dynamic speed limits, which suit driving conditions and the road environment, the Smart Motorway design is not without risk.

“Permanently converting a hard shoulder into a fourth lane provides a substantial risk to stranded drivers and could hinder emergency services.”

Jack Cousens, head of road safety policy at the AA, added: “We have serious concerns about the all-lane running smart motorway scheme. Emergency refuge areas which can be used by drivers when they break down are too far apart at 2.6km and should be similar to the M42 trial schemes where they were 800m apart.”

“We understand the goal of easing congestion and increasing capacity on the motorway but safety should be a priority.”

He added: “The Transport Select Committee argeed with us last year that all-lane smart motorway projects are a safety concern and that all projects should be stopped however the government haven’t done that.”

Smart motorways use pioneering technology to manage traffic during busy periods this includes changing the speed limit to smooth traffic flow, activating warning signs and closing lanes when needed.

Cllr Seán Woodward, leader of Fareham Borough Council, said: “I’ve been campaigning for a number of years for these improvements on the M27.

“Now that Highways England is committed to delivering the £250m project next year we need to ensure that the project is tied in with the new junction 10 Welborne planning application.”

Highways England, however, claim that the scheme designs are being investigated thoroughly ahead of the plans going

to consultation in autumn 2017, to inform residents, local businesses, organisations, and visitors to the area about the scheme.