The UK’s Highways Agency has awarded a national framework contract for up to £2bn ($3.14bn) of work to deliver its Managed Motorways schemes, which will cut congestion and travel times as well as improve safety on key sections of England’s motorways.

The contracts form the first phase of the schemes and have been awarded to four companies – Balfour Beatty, BAM Nuttall/Morgan Est Joint Venture, Carillion and the Costain/Serco Joint Venture.

The schemes under the framework contract include the M62 hard shoulder between junctions 25 and 30 near Bradford, M1 hard shoulder between junctions 32 and 35a east of Sheffield and M6 hard shoulder running between junctions 5 and 8 near Walsall, Birmingham, among others.

Transport Minister Chris Mole said Managed Motorways, scheduled to be delivered by 2015, uses a range of innovative technology to improve traffic flow during busy periods.

“Features such as variable speed limits and opening up the hard shoulder to traffic at peak times provide more reliable journey times, reduced congestion, and safer journeys,” Mole said.