M4 Junction 3 to 12 Smart Motorway

The study of British and Irish roads - their construction, numbering, history, mapping, past and future official roads proposals and general roads musings.

There is a separate forum for Street Furniture (traffic lights, street lights, road signs etc).

Registered users get access to other forums including discussions about other forms of transport, driving, fantasy roads and wishlists, and roads quizzes.

Moderator: Site Management Team

Post Reply
User avatar
A303Chris
Elected Committee Member
Posts: 3442
Joined: Mon Sep 20, 2004 14:01
Location: Reading

Re: M4 Junction 3 to 12 Smart Motorway

Post by A303Chris »

A lot of work has happened over the last few weeks and signage and lining is up between J4b and J12, and it is disappointing.

Apart from Junction 7, Huntercombe , all junctions have lane drops totally different to the original proposals presented in the Infrastructures Commission Inquiry back in 2015/16 which showed lane drops at the ends and at J10 and J4b only.

The signing for J5 Eastbound is funny, it has lane one for A4 Langley/Eton, Lane 2 for M25 in 1 &1/2 miles and lanes 3 and 4 for London/Heathrow. This always bottled up here over the junction with three lanes, so its no improvement. After J5, lane one is a lane gain and as soon as it passes under Sutton Lane bridge it becomes 5 lanes, with 1 and 2 going on the M25.

So same situation as now with weaving, but no improvement.

My partner lives just off J12 , Tilehurst, I live in Woodley just off J10, and using the M4 is quicker than plodding through Reading. This section has been operating fully open albeit with a 60mph since mid October, and you might as well just repaint the hard shoulder removing it a mile before the junctions as lane one is not used.

Last week at 10.30pm I drove all the way in lane 1 expect moving out to go through J11 and undertook 14 vehicles. The same is happening for J10 to J8/9, lane one is not being used.

I can not understand why the M4, M3 and M23 all have lane drops while M1 and M6 do not.

It seems 3 and half years of disruption for no gain at all, we have created a motorway with a load of M25 j11 bottlenecks.
The M25 - The road to nowhere
User avatar
ChrisH
Member
Posts: 3917
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2002 11:29

Re: M4 Junction 3 to 12 Smart Motorway

Post by ChrisH »

A303Chris wrote: Tue Nov 30, 2021 14:14 A lot of work has happened over the last few weeks and signage and lining is up between J4b and J12, and it is disappointing.
...
It seems 3 and half years of disruption for no gain at all, we have created a motorway with a load of M25 j11 bottlenecks.
Exactly right. This is a scheme which has cost an almost unimaginable £800m and will have taken nearly four years to accomplish frustratingly marginal benefits for drivers.

The lane discipline of drivers on the completed section J8-12 is just as bad as it is on the M3, M25 and M40 with four-lane sections. By putting lane drops in at every junction it just gives people the impression that lane 1 is only for exiting and not for driving.

The street lighting has also been removed west of Slough which is an additional safety disbenefit when there is no hard shoulder to pull onto. At night on these unlit "smart" motorways even I avoid lane 1 because of limited visibility.
Micro The Maniac
Member
Posts: 1079
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2015 13:14
Location: Gone

Re: M4 Junction 3 to 12 Smart Motorway

Post by Micro The Maniac »

Yesterday, I drove the M4 from the M25 to Port Abraham Services (where the M4 ends) - I only needed to go to Port Talbot but I'd never previously done the last bit so took my chance...

Frankly the J4B-J12 "improvements" are a missed opportunity - OK we now have the concrete central reservation, but the rest? Bleugh!

J11 (for the A33) looks like an even bigger mess than before... and while I'm a fan of lane drops where appropriate, I'm puzzled why some junctions (especially the Slough/A4 junctions) needed them. I sense the VMS will be showing "Use Lane 1 unless overtaking" much of the time...
User avatar
A303Chris
Elected Committee Member
Posts: 3442
Joined: Mon Sep 20, 2004 14:01
Location: Reading

Re: M4 Junction 3 to 12 Smart Motorway

Post by A303Chris »

ChrisH wrote: Tue Nov 30, 2021 16:25 The street lighting has also been removed west of Slough which is an additional safety disbenefit when there is no hard shoulder to pull onto. At night on these unlit "smart" motorways even I avoid lane 1 because of limited visibility.
Street lighting has only been removed J7 to J8/9, so just three mile less. You can see the barrier narrows just after J7, but the wider barrier has the bolt holders for the lamps in place as per the ones installed between J3 and J4b, but it seems penny pinching to remove the lights fro J7 to J8/9 and around Reading between J10 and J12.

The J10 lighting is a joke the slip roads have them, but the merges and two through route do not !!!!!!
The M25 - The road to nowhere
User avatar
A303Chris
Elected Committee Member
Posts: 3442
Joined: Mon Sep 20, 2004 14:01
Location: Reading

Re: M4 Junction 3 to 12 Smart Motorway

Post by A303Chris »

Micro The Maniac wrote: Tue Nov 30, 2021 16:58 Yesterday, I drove the M4 from the M25 to Port Abraham Services (where the M4 ends) - I only needed to go to Port Talbot but I'd never previously done the last bit so took my chance...

Frankly the J4B-J12 "improvements" are a missed opportunity - OK we now have the concrete central reservation, but the rest? Bleugh!

J11 (for the A33) looks like an even bigger mess than before... and while I'm a fan of lane drops where appropriate, I'm puzzled why some junctions (especially the Slough/A4 junctions) needed them. I sense the VMS will be showing "Use Lane 1 unless overtaking" much of the time...
J11 does look a mess, while as you say given the close proximity of the junctions from J8/9 all the way to J3, drivers are just not going to use lane one as soon as move in you will have to move out again within a short distance.

It is a huge missed opportunity.
The M25 - The road to nowhere
User avatar
Chris5156
Deputy Treasurer
Posts: 15459
Joined: Thu Sep 06, 2001 21:50
Location: Hampshire
Contact:

Re: M4 Junction 3 to 12 Smart Motorway

Post by Chris5156 »

ChrisH wrote: Tue Nov 30, 2021 16:25
A303Chris wrote: Tue Nov 30, 2021 14:14 A lot of work has happened over the last few weeks and signage and lining is up between J4b and J12, and it is disappointing.
...
It seems 3 and half years of disruption for no gain at all, we have created a motorway with a load of M25 j11 bottlenecks.
Exactly right. This is a scheme which has cost an almost unimaginable £800m and will have taken nearly four years to accomplish frustratingly marginal benefits for drivers.

The lane discipline of drivers on the completed section J8-12 is just as bad as it is on the M3, M25 and M40 with four-lane sections. By putting lane drops in at every junction it just gives people the impression that lane 1 is only for exiting and not for driving.
Agreed on all points. I thought the lesson had been learned, from the early M25 widening projects, that providing an extra lane between junctions and not through them delivered decidedly shaky benefits and that the extra lane was badly under-used as a result. But then - at the risk of having a whinge - NH don't have a very long view of history; they seem to be under the impression that they invented contraflows about three years ago so anything that was learned 30 years ago is possibly something they have to find out for themselves all over again!
User avatar
Bryn666
Elected Committee Member
Posts: 33115
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2002 20:54

Re: M4 Junction 3 to 12 Smart Motorway

Post by Bryn666 »

Chris5156 wrote: Tue Nov 30, 2021 21:48
ChrisH wrote: Tue Nov 30, 2021 16:25
A303Chris wrote: Tue Nov 30, 2021 14:14 A lot of work has happened over the last few weeks and signage and lining is up between J4b and J12, and it is disappointing.
...
It seems 3 and half years of disruption for no gain at all, we have created a motorway with a load of M25 j11 bottlenecks.
Exactly right. This is a scheme which has cost an almost unimaginable £800m and will have taken nearly four years to accomplish frustratingly marginal benefits for drivers.

The lane discipline of drivers on the completed section J8-12 is just as bad as it is on the M3, M25 and M40 with four-lane sections. By putting lane drops in at every junction it just gives people the impression that lane 1 is only for exiting and not for driving.
Agreed on all points. I thought the lesson had been learned, from the early M25 widening projects, that providing an extra lane between junctions and not through them delivered decidedly shaky benefits and that the extra lane was badly under-used as a result. But then - at the risk of having a whinge - NH don't have a very long view of history; they seem to be under the impression that they invented contraflows about three years ago so anything that was learned 30 years ago is possibly something they have to find out for themselves all over again!
It really screams that once again the smart motorway consultants have no idea what they're doing but must have a generous fee proposal every time as they keep winning despite the quality being dire on every single one of these jobs post 2010.
Bryn
Traffic/Road Safety Dogsbody and General Grumpy Now-a-Thirtysomething Man
She said life was like a motorway; dull, grey, and long.

Blog - https://showmeasign.online/
User avatar
Truvelo
SABRE Wiki admin
Posts: 16906
Joined: Wed May 29, 2002 21:10
Location: Staffordshire
Contact:

Re: M4 Junction 3 to 12 Smart Motorway

Post by Truvelo »

And what I also witness are drivers moving over to lane 2 on the approach to junctions where there is no lane drop in the belief there is one.
How would you like your grade separations, Sir?
Big and complex.
User avatar
DavidB
Member
Posts: 1196
Joined: Sun Jun 09, 2002 20:32
Location: Berkshire

Re: M4 Junction 3 to 12 Smart Motorway

Post by DavidB »

Tweet just now from Paul Clifton of BBC South Today:

https://twitter.com/PaulCliftonBBC/stat ... 0093417479
The M4 smart motorway through Berkshire has fully opened today between Junction 8/9 and Junction 12. Without warning or fanfare: a reflection of the opposition to it. Previously there was a 60mph limit.
User avatar
A303Chris
Elected Committee Member
Posts: 3442
Joined: Mon Sep 20, 2004 14:01
Location: Reading

Re: M4 Junction 3 to 12 Smart Motorway

Post by A303Chris »

DavidB wrote: Thu Dec 09, 2021 16:25 Tweet just now from Paul Clifton of BBC South Today:

https://twitter.com/PaulCliftonBBC/stat ... 0093417479
The M4 smart motorway through Berkshire has fully opened today between Junction 8/9 and Junction 12. Without warning or fanfare: a reflection of the opposition to it. Previously there was a 60mph limit.
Drove through last evening and can confirm J8/9 to J12 is now at NSL.

However on the return journey J10 to j11 was closed in both directions, indicating that work still needs to be completed.
The M25 - The road to nowhere
brummie_rob
Member
Posts: 1457
Joined: Sun May 08, 2005 00:16

Re: M4 Junction 3 to 12 Smart Motorway

Post by brummie_rob »

The work last night from J10-J11 was just powerlines above the motorway, nothing to do with 'smart' works!
mathmo
Member
Posts: 23
Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2009 17:08

Re: M4 Junction 3 to 12 Smart Motorway

Post by mathmo »

This project appears to have been crawling towards completion for the last few months. Thankfully the weekend full closures (the majority of weekends recently) have now stopped. There is not much obvious work remaining.

An update was posted this week on https://nationalhighways.co.uk/our-work ... -motorway/:
Since the 17-mile section between junctions 8/9 at Maidenhead and 12, for Theale, was opened in December 2021, we’ve been continuing with our work on the 15-mile eastern section, between junctions 3 at Hayes and 8/9.

Construction on this stretch will be largely complete by the end of spring, and we’re aiming to begin the phased opening in summer 2022, with all lanes open at 60mph.

During the next phase, the technology will be calibrated. This means it will be finely adjusted, to suit the particular environment of the road where it has been installed. This can only happen when there are no roadworks and when drivers are able to use all lanes of the upgraded carriageway.

Dedicated monitoring of temporary CCTV in the roadworks and free recovery will be in place.

Once the system is performing to an acceptable level at 60mph, the maximum speed will be increased to the national speed limit. It is important to note that from this point onwards further calibration continues as we go through a process of continual improvement.
Personally I would be happy with three lanes at 60mph, as it was still 50mph last week.
User avatar
A303Chris
Elected Committee Member
Posts: 3442
Joined: Mon Sep 20, 2004 14:01
Location: Reading

Re: M4 Junction 3 to 12 Smart Motorway

Post by A303Chris »

Yes I go that update as well.

What I could not understand is the full weekend closures between J11 and J12 , Eastbound July 1st to July 4th and Westbound July 15th to July 18th, which happens to be first weekend of school holidays !!!! This was completed Easter last year and been fully operational for 7 months, be great to find out why.

But this statement also intrigued me.
Once the system is performing to an acceptable level at 60mph, the maximum speed will be increased to the national speed limit. It is important to note that from this point onwards further calibration continues as we go through a process of continual improvement.
It seems to say once operational at NSL further calibration is stilled required, so does that mean enforcement can not be undertaken?
The M25 - The road to nowhere
User avatar
Big L
Deputy Site Manager
Posts: 6131
Joined: Sun Nov 14, 2010 20:36
Location: B5012

Re: M4 Junction 3 to 12 Smart Motorway

Post by Big L »

Isn't it stuff like the detection loops that are being calibrated? I'd imagine a speed camera is a calibrated item out of the box, sealed to prevent tampering.
Make poetry history.

Did you know there's more to SABRE than just the Forums?
Add your roads knowledge to the SABRE Wiki today!
Have you browsed SABRE Maps recently? Try getting involved!
User avatar
ChrisH
Member
Posts: 3917
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2002 11:29

Re: M4 Junction 3 to 12 Smart Motorway

Post by ChrisH »

I noticed at the weekend that the signage approaching J8/9 eastbound is incorrect.

On the approach to the junction, Lane 1 is signed for both A404(M) and A308(M), and Lane 2 is for A308(M) as well as M4. However, on the sliproad Lane 1 turns into a dedicated lane for A404(M), which is significantly busier than the A308(M) in any case. Disappointing attention to detail from the scheme designers and sponsors. I have emailed the project team and will pass on any replies.

I would also be interested to know what (if any) impact assessments are done for these full weekend closures. Until this scheme, and the M3 scheme before that, I think full weekend closures of a motorway were extremely rare, but now they are being done for large-scale resurfacing and other work which - while convenient for the contractor and perhaps cost-saving - are extremely inconvenient for customers and must impose a significant journey time disbenefit.
DB617
Member
Posts: 994
Joined: Mon Dec 25, 2017 00:51
Location: Bristol

Re: M4 Junction 3 to 12 Smart Motorway

Post by DB617 »

ChrisH wrote: Mon May 30, 2022 15:51 I would also be interested to know what (if any) impact assessments are done for these full weekend closures. Until this scheme, and the M3 scheme before that, I think full weekend closures of a motorway were extremely rare, but now they are being done for large-scale resurfacing and other work which - while convenient for the contractor and perhaps cost-saving - are extremely inconvenient for customers and must impose a significant journey time disbenefit.
They certainly do. They are especially harmful for the coaches, I find, as I made the mistake of using National Express on a Sunday night when the M4 was fully closed in two places - J3 to J5 and J13 to J14. My coach took two hours longer than timetabled to arrive at Victoria to pick me up and took two hours longer than timetabled on top to get back to Bristol, from where by some act of God the BRT was still running to the University. Add in an unplanned mandatory driver break and you're talking a five hour delay. Naturally, National Express saw the notification of closures months in advance and planned accordingly... ha. ha. ha. Not. :roll: Closure of a motorway at any time, even nighttime, is like pinching an artery. There is often no alternative route that works for an economy formed around the motorway. In the case of the J13 to J14 closure, my front seat view on the bus gave me a perfect view of hundreds of coaches and HGVs squeezing through the streets of Hungerford.

In terms of why it has become commonplace, I suspect that health and safety has made it far too onerous or impossible to perform many types of work with adjacent live lanes. The restraints and clearances required have become so large that they would probably have to stay in place during the daytime openings and unacceptably restrict peak time down to 1-2 lanes. I know Traffic Wales has been avoiding some of the madness by making use of contraflows, which seem very rare in England now.

Not to mention the most cynical of views - they just don't care. They have a job to do, construction and maintenance KPIs to meet, and the person ultimately concerned with customer satisfaction is the minister, who rarely if ever shows any interest in these sort of affairs which should be one of his major remits.
User avatar
Chris5156
Deputy Treasurer
Posts: 15459
Joined: Thu Sep 06, 2001 21:50
Location: Hampshire
Contact:

Re: M4 Junction 3 to 12 Smart Motorway

Post by Chris5156 »

ChrisH wrote: Tue Nov 30, 2021 16:25
A303Chris wrote: Tue Nov 30, 2021 14:14 A lot of work has happened over the last few weeks and signage and lining is up between J4b and J12, and it is disappointing.
...
It seems 3 and half years of disruption for no gain at all, we have created a motorway with a load of M25 j11 bottlenecks.
Exactly right. This is a scheme which has cost an almost unimaginable £800m and will have taken nearly four years to accomplish frustratingly marginal benefits for drivers.

The lane discipline of drivers on the completed section J8-12 is just as bad as it is on the M3, M25 and M40 with four-lane sections. By putting lane drops in at every junction it just gives people the impression that lane 1 is only for exiting and not for driving.

The street lighting has also been removed west of Slough which is an additional safety disbenefit when there is no hard shoulder to pull onto. At night on these unlit "smart" motorways even I avoid lane 1 because of limited visibility.
I used the M4 J1-4B yesterday, for the first time in a month or two, and since I last went that way the permanent direction signs have gone up. In light of that I thought it was worth an update on all the misguided lane drops NH belatedly inserted into the scheme.

J8/9? Lane drop
J6? Lane drop
J5? Lane drop

But J4, the Airport Spur, where a huge proportion of traffic does leave the M4? Four lanes throughout. Of all the junctions to omit a westbound lane drop or an eastbound lane gain, this is surely the one that makes the least sense.

This project continues to be a huge disappointment, from the project management which has been two fingers raised to anyone wishing to use the M4 outside office hours, to the failure to replace one utterly critical bridge between 4B and 5, to the new bridges that fail to leave any additional space for future lanes or hard shoulders, to the misguided insertion of lane drops that remove many of the capacity benefits altogether. It’s not quite a waste of money on the scale of the M25 J10 scheme, but it’s close.
User avatar
Bryn666
Elected Committee Member
Posts: 33115
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2002 20:54

Re: M4 Junction 3 to 12 Smart Motorway

Post by Bryn666 »

Chris5156 wrote: Mon May 30, 2022 21:39
ChrisH wrote: Tue Nov 30, 2021 16:25
A303Chris wrote: Tue Nov 30, 2021 14:14 A lot of work has happened over the last few weeks and signage and lining is up between J4b and J12, and it is disappointing.
...
It seems 3 and half years of disruption for no gain at all, we have created a motorway with a load of M25 j11 bottlenecks.
Exactly right. This is a scheme which has cost an almost unimaginable £800m and will have taken nearly four years to accomplish frustratingly marginal benefits for drivers.

The lane discipline of drivers on the completed section J8-12 is just as bad as it is on the M3, M25 and M40 with four-lane sections. By putting lane drops in at every junction it just gives people the impression that lane 1 is only for exiting and not for driving.

The street lighting has also been removed west of Slough which is an additional safety disbenefit when there is no hard shoulder to pull onto. At night on these unlit "smart" motorways even I avoid lane 1 because of limited visibility.
I used the M4 J1-4B yesterday, for the first time in a month or two, and since I last went that way the permanent direction signs have gone up. In light of that I thought it was worth an update on all the misguided lane drops NH belatedly inserted into the scheme.

J8/9? Lane drop
J6? Lane drop
J5? Lane drop

But J4, the Airport Spur, where a huge proportion of traffic does leave the M4? Four lanes throughout. Of all the junctions to omit a westbound lane drop or an eastbound lane gain, this is surely the one that makes the least sense.

This project continues to be a huge disappointment, from the project management which has been two fingers raised to anyone wishing to use the M4 outside office hours, to the failure to replace one utterly critical bridge between 4B and 5, to the new bridges that fail to leave any additional space for future lanes or hard shoulders, to the misguided insertion of lane drops that remove many of the capacity benefits altogether. It’s not quite a waste of money on the scale of the M25 J10 scheme, but it’s close.
One for the "jobs for the boys" folder I think. This has been done so people can say they've done something, rather than actually a substantive improvement.
Bryn
Traffic/Road Safety Dogsbody and General Grumpy Now-a-Thirtysomething Man
She said life was like a motorway; dull, grey, and long.

Blog - https://showmeasign.online/
mathmo
Member
Posts: 23
Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2009 17:08

Re: M4 Junction 3 to 12 Smart Motorway

Post by mathmo »

Interestingly I spotted that the NH web page now includes a "Consultation 2022" section, linking to https://infrastructure.planninginspecto ... -motorway/ as they have submitted a "non-material change" to the development consent order, including some minor things but notably the removal of the through-junction running at J5, J6, J8/9 and J11. I find this quite astonishing because they've already built it and they're only now asking permission to change it. The documents I've looked at (though there are 300 of them) don't seem mention that it's already been built like that.

Representations are still open for another fortnight if anyone wants to comment.
User avatar
Bryn666
Elected Committee Member
Posts: 33115
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2002 20:54

Re: M4 Junction 3 to 12 Smart Motorway

Post by Bryn666 »

The lane layout on the Huntercombe spur is stupid as well - lane drops after the diverge instead of a simple 1+1 split and 1+1 lane gain.

It's as if the designers have no idea how traffic works.
Bryn
Traffic/Road Safety Dogsbody and General Grumpy Now-a-Thirtysomething Man
She said life was like a motorway; dull, grey, and long.

Blog - https://showmeasign.online/
Post Reply