An £174m upgrade to a stretch of the M3 has opened, providing a fourth lane of motorway between Farnborough in Hampshire and the M25 London Orbital. The new 'smart motorway' has transformed the hard shoulder into a fourth lane along the 13.4-mile stretch between the fringes of the capital and Farnborough. Work first began on this ambitious project towards the back end of 2014 and the upgrade has been completed on schedule according to Pranav Devale, project manager, Highways England. 'This new stretch of smart motorway will tackle congestion and improve journey times for the 130,000 drivers who use it every day,î said Devale. 'Smart motorways add vital extra capacity, improve journey times and maintain high levels of safety. Drivers will also see better information about conditions on the road ahead and enjoy smoother journeys on the fully resurfaced road _ as well as the smart motorway upgrade, we have also been carrying out the most extensive maintenance on the M3 since it was first built in 1971 in parallel with the smart motorway works.î Nevertheless, more education about the benefits of smart motorways appears to be essential after recent AA research found that almost two-fifths (38%) of drivers won't drive on hard shoulders converted into running lanes for fear of encountering broken down vehicles. Edmund King, president, AA, said: 'Drivers are fearful that, with the current lack of Emergency Refuge Areas, they will come across broken down vehicles and have little chance of avoiding collisions. 'We need more education for drivers using smart motorways and clearly they do not trust the schemes in their current state.î Further work to test and commission the M3's new smart motorway technology will continue for the time being, with plans in place to open the fully upgraded road to traffic towards the end of July. Throughout the testing period a 50mph speed limit has been put in place for safety reasons.