Roads minister welcomes start of work on M1 smart motorway
(Press release Highways Agency:) 8 November 2013 - Roads minister Robert Goodwill has welcomed the start of works on a major scheme to reduce congestion and increase capacity on the M1 near Wakefield.
Work gets underway on Monday, 11 November, on the M1 smart motorway scheme, which will add much-needed capacity to six miles of the M1 between junction 39 (Durkar) and junction 42 (Lofthouse) by converting the hard shoulder to a permanent traffic lane. Variable mandatory speed limits, displayed on overhead and verge-mounted signs, will help smooth the flow of traffic and reduce congestion.
Roads Minister Robert Goodwill said: ‘More than 113,000 vehicles use this section of the M1 every day, which means congestion is a serious problem and likely to increase significantly unless action is taken now. That is why this government has invested £120 million to help improve access and traffic flow on this vital economic route, with road users and businesses set to benefit sooner with work starting earlier than planned.’
The work is starting earlier than the previously announced date of 2014/15, and is due to be completed in September 2015. The £105 million construction contract for the scheme (which has an estimated overall cost of £120 million) has been awarded to the BAM Nuttall / Morgan Sindall joint venture (bmJV). They previously delivered the smart motorway improvements on the M62 between junction 25 (Brighouse) and junction 30 (Rothwell). The experience gained from this scheme has been used to streamline the M1 construction timetable.
Gary Crisp, contracts director for bmJV, said: ‘We are delighted that our previous experience gained on a range of highways schemes, including the M62, has ensured we are best placed to provide the travelling public with this improved road network earlier than originally scheduled. We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with the Highways Agency to realise this vital scheme to reduce congestion and improve journey times, without reducing safety.’
During the work, three narrow lanes will be maintained in each direction and a 50mph speed limit, enforced by average speed safety cameras, will be in place. A free recovery service will be in operation and various slip road, lane and carriageway closures will be required but these will be carried out overnight wherever possible in order to minimise delays.
Road users are advised that the southbound carriageway of the M1 will be closed for two nights from this evening (8 November), as part of ongoing barrier upgrade works.
The southbound carriageway will be closed between junctions 41 (Carr Gate) and 42 (Lofthouse) on Friday night, and between junctions 40 (Ossett) and 41 on Saturday night. Closures take place between 8pm and 6am, and a clearly-signed diversion will be in place via the local road network.
As the work is weather-dependent, closures may also take place overnight on Sunday or Monday as a contingency measure.
Drivers are advised to plan ahead and allow additional time for their journeys. Real-time traffic information is available from the Highways Agency Information Line on 0300 123 5000, or from the Highways Agency website.
- The Highways Agency is an executive agency of the Department for Transport. We manage, maintain and improve England’s motorways and other strategic roads on behalf of the Secretary of State.
Smart motorways: As an Agency we have changed the name of managed motorways to smart motorways. We are making smarter use of our motorway network, smart motorways encompasses all sections of our network that incorporate technology to manage congestion and improve journey time reliability. This includes controlling speeds to improve traffic flow through the use of variable mandatory speeds and providing driver information on overhead signs. Most recognisably smart motorways can use technology to open the hard shoulder at times of peak demand or the hard shoulder is permanently converted to a traffic lane with additional emergency refuge areas. This adds extra capacity on some of the busiest sections of our motorway network.
It is important to the Agency that all road users understand the layout, signs and signals used on our smart motorways sections. We have been working to introduce a series of information products that can be easily identified and understood as smart motorways. From November 2013 these will begin to be promoted and shared with road users and our partners. More information and background on smart motorways is available at: www.highways.gov.uk/smartmotorways.
- Smart motorways use a range of innovative technologies to actively control traffic. Features include variable mandatory speed limits, with electronic signs to display the speed limit, inform drivers and update them about incidents, lane closures or conditions ahead. Together with the permanent conversion of the hard shoulder to a running lane, this will improve traffic flow, reduce congestion and improve journey time reliability, without reducing safety.
- Through experience of operating smart motorway schemes on the M42 and M6, in the West Midlands, we have produced a new design standard for schemes starting main construction work from 2013 onwards, where the hard shoulder is converted to a running lane on a permanent basis, and fewer big structures, like gantries, are needed.
- We plan maintenance and improvement projects carefully to allow road works to be completed safely, in a cost effective way while keeping disruption to road users to a minimum. We do as much work as possible overnight and when roads are less busy in order to keep more lanes open for road users at peak travel times. Drivers are advised to check their route for road works and allow extra time for their journeys where needed. We have a variety of journey planning tools that road users can use to check travel conditions on the roads we manage, and we will do all we can to keep road users informed.
Real-time traffic information for England’s motorways and other strategic roads is available:
- From the web at www.highways.gov.uk/traffic
- By phone from the Highways Agency Information Line on 0300 123 5000 at any time. (Calls to 0300 numbers will cost no more than 5p per minute from a standard BT residential landline. Call charges from other landlines and mobile networks may vary, but will be no more than a standard geographic call and will be included in all inclusive minutes and discount schemes). Make sure it’s safe and legal before you call. Before using any mobile, find a safe place to park. Never stop on the hard shoulder of a motorway except in an emergency.
- On an iPhone app which will automatically select the region you are in. Free to download from the iTunes store or search for Highways Agency on your device.
- From Twitter – there are eight feeds with live traffic information provided by region. For information on roads in the south east region follow us @HAtraffic_seast or for the full index visit www.highways.gov.uk/twitter.