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A new system of traffic control to provide drivers with safer access ...
A new system of traffic control to provide drivers with safer access

on to motorways and improve vehicle flow has been launched by

transport and environment minister Lord Whitty.

The system, known as ramp metering, works during peak travel times,

aiming to reduce bottlenecks at motorway junctions and reduce the

risk of accidents for drivers entering motorways from slip roads.

Six sites at key junctions along the M3 and M27 around Southampton

have been chosen by the Highways Agency to pilot the scheme, which is

used extensively in the United States, as well as in France and


Traffic signals installed on motorway entry slip roads control

vehicle flow on to the main carriageway at a 'metered' rate. These

are linked to sensors in the road which measure the volume of traffic

travelling along the motorway and identify when it is safe for

motorists to join the traffic flow.

The success of the system will depend on drivers complying with the

traffic signals which, like ordinary urban signals, will be enforced

by the police.

Lord Whitty said:

'I am pleased to launch the trial of ramp metering on the M3 and M27

motorways. The system has proved highly successful in reducing

congestion and improving safety in other countries and we look

forward to sharing those benefits with motorists in England.

'I look forward to seeing the results of the ramp metering trial

which has been introduced by the Highways Agency in line with

proposals outlined in the government's 10 Year Plan for Transport.'

Highways Agency chief executive Peter Nutt said:

'The agency is committed to finding the best ways to manage traffic

flows to ensure drivers have smoother and safer journeys on the

national road network. Ramp metering is an excellent high-tech

solution to improve traffic management. 'I would ask motorists to be

aware of the new signals which are designed to improve access on to

motorways during peak times.'


1. Ramp metering operates successfully in the United States at over

3,000 sites and is used in France and Holland.

2. The ramp metering scheme on the M27 and M3 will cost£4m.

The Highways Agency has appointed Owen Williams as consultants on the


3. The Highways Agency is an executive agency of the DETR which manages, maintains and improves the network of motorways and other main A roads in England on behalf of the secretary of state. It works closely with other transport operators and with local authorities to integrate the network with the rest of England's roads and other forms of transport.

4. In addition to the ramp metering trials, a strategic study of

travel along the M27 corridor is being carried out by consultants MVA

Limited on behalf of the Government Office for the South East. The

study, which is due to report in November, will take account of

whatever early information is available on the ramp metering trials

in making recommendations on multi-modal solutions to reduce

congestion and delay on the M27.

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