A MULTI-million pound project to improve motorway journey times is set to get under way today.

Highways Agency bosses are spending £208 million on changing a 17-mile stretch of road from the M60 at Sale to the M62 at Rochdale — which covers the M61 junction to and from Bolton — into a "smart motorway".

This will allow state-ofthe-art technology to measure traffic levels and set varied speed limits to keep vehicles moving as efficiently as possible.

When not used in emergencies, the hard shoulder will become an extra lane for motorists between junctions 18 and 20 on the M62.

Stephen Greenhalgh, from the Highways Agency, said: “These improvements are part of the record £24 billion investment the government is making in the road network.

“Once completed, the smart motorway will tackle the congestion and unpredictable journey times that users of the M60 and M62 experience every day.

“It is also good news for the construction industry as more than 1,000 jobs will be created.”

From today, engineers will survey the road and carry out ground investigation work.

Some sections of the hard shoulder will be cordoned off, but are still usable in an emergency and broken-down vehicles will be removed for free.

From next Monday, a 50mph limit will apply on the M62 and will then gradually be extended across the length of the smart motorway route over following weeks.

All lanes on the motorway will remain open during the day, but some overnight closures will be required later in the project.

Mr Greenhalgh added: “We will do everything we can to keep disruption to a minimum, but motorists are still well advised to leave enough time for their journeys.”

The planned completion date is the autumn of 2017.