THE planned smart motorway work near Winchester has been temporarily postponed following a transport select committee report, published earlier this month.

National Highways have postponed the work on the central reservation between junctions nine at Winnall and 14 near Eastleigh of the M3 after preparatory work had started. The smart motorway work would follow.

It was reported today (November 22) by New Civil Engineer that National Highways have written to Balfour Beatty, who were doing the work, to say that it is being postponed.

The statement from National Highways, with the Smart Motorway Programme (SMP) Alliance and the Department for Transport, said it is actively considering the select committee’s findings and recommendations.

It said: “While this work is undertaken, National Highways have announced they are temporarily postponing the planned start of work to upgrade the M3 central reservation barrier between junctions nine and 14.

“We will continue to keep everyone in the SMP Alliance updated with further information when available.”

National Highways smart motorways programme director David Bray said: “We have temporarily paused planned works on the M3 between junctions 9 and 14. This is while we and the Department for Transport consider the findings and recommendations of the recently-published Transport Select Committee’s inquiry into the safety and rollout of smart motorways.

“We will provide an update in due course.”

The Chronicle recently reported that the work, which is costing £139 million, had almost completed its preparations with the start on the central reservation originally due to start before the end of the year.

As well as this, a contractors compound is being constructed with an entrance to this is directly off Badgers Farm Road with the exit onto Otterbourne Road.

The postponement follows the transport select committee report, published at the start of November, which questioned the safety of the smart motorway work nationally.

The committee’s report said: “The Government and National Highways should pause the rollout of new all-lane running schemes until five years of safety and economic data is available for every all-lane running scheme introduced before 2020 and the implementation of the safety improvements in the Government’s action plan has been independently evaluated.”

In response to the report, a Department of Transport spokesperson said: “We welcome the Transport Committee’s scrutiny and will now consider its recommendations in detail, providing a formal response in due course. This is a serious piece of work which we will engage with closely in the months ahead.

“We’re pleased that the TSC recognises that reinstating the hard shoulder on all all-lane running motorways could put more drivers and passengers at risk of death and serious injury and that we’re right to focus on upgrading their safety, as the Secretary of State committed to doing when he became Transport Secretary.

“We recognise that improvements have not always been made as quickly as they could have been in the past, but as the committee has set out, the Transport Secretary is absolutely committed to making Smart Motorways as safe as possible, including committing £500 million on upgrades and the faster rollout of Stopped Vehicle Detection.

Balfour Beatty were approached, but directed the Chronicle to National Highways, formerly Highways England.