The M27 Smart Motorway project has been underway for around 12 months and will be carrying on for at least another 12 months. We are having to take into account that due to the 50mph speed limit, our journeys will take longer, especially since the 50mph section has been extended further east to just past the other side of the Fareham junction.
We were hopeful that the concrete section would be replaced with tarmac, but that has not happened. This is a big disappointment, but frankly, we have been promised a quiet piece of motorway through West End since 2009 and so it will be a surprise if the noise is ever reduced. The reason Highways England are giving for not doing the work is cost. Again, not a surprise when Government money is being siphoned off elsewhere.
I have been pushing for noise and pollution figures, but these are not forthcoming either. My reasoning is that not only do we need to know what the before and after figures are, we need to know how the combined pollution is worsening over time and how much it increases during rush hours when the traffic speeds are considerably slower. In addition, Highways England have to decide which type of tarmac to use. If they use hot-rolled asphalt, it is hardwearing, but relatively noisy when driven across. Alternatively, a less durable, but quieter tarmac used at the Chichester end of the M27/A27 has broken up relatively quickly and needs resurfacing sooner. Another reason why noise figures are important is because, who would be happy with a motorway with a tarmac surface that was as noisy as the previous concrete one? Therefore, a big factor in this conversation is the number of noise absorbing panels that are mounted along the motorway edge. Currently these are only going to be erected in Noise Important Areas (NIAs) determined by DEFRA.