The work is expected to continue until March 2010
Roadworks have begun on two long stretches of the M6 to prepare the motorway to take traffic on its hard shoulder at busy times.
The work is taking place from junctions five and eight, in the West Midlands, and 10a to 16 in Staffordshire.
Both directions of the motorway will be affected. All lanes will remain open but will be narrowed so a 50mph speed limit will be in place.
The work on those stretches is expected to continue until March 2010.
Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon said in January that £6bn would be spent across England in total to allow drivers to use the hard shoulder during busy times.
The scheme is expected to be eventually rolled out to the M6 in Warwickshire, the M5 and M1.
It follows a pilot on the M42 near Birmingham to tackle congestion.