Highways England facing bill of millions for smart motorway retrofit

03/02/2020
Dominic Browne and Chris Ames

With the publication of a government review into smart motorways ‘imminent’, Highways England is facing costs running into many millions to retrofit new safety measures - even on schemes currently being built.

Based on previous comments from transport secretary Grant Shapps, it is likely the so-called smart motorways 'stocktake' will lead to new safety measures such as more frequent emergency refuge areas (ERA) and stopped vehicle detection.

However, schemes currently under construction do not meet these expected new criteria.  

Mr Shapps has said that he favours a maximum distance of approximately a mile between ERAs on all lane running (ALR) smart motorway schemes - where the hard shoulder is permanently converted into a live traffic lane - rather than a maximum of a mile and a half at present.

Highways England has previously pledged to introduce this standard from March 2020 on all new schemes.

It confirmed that schemes in construction, including one on the M20 due to open in March and one on the M23 near Gatwick, are being built to the existing standard of one and a half miles between ERAs.

Last week transport secretary Grant Shapps told MPs that no new smart motorways will be opened until he had the 'outcome’ of the ongoing ‘stocktake’ of smart motorways, which he announced in October last year and is now significantly overdue.

However, this has not stopped the construction of the projects. Highways England has confirmed that the construction work is continuing on new ALR schemes, without any reform of the ERA specifications.

A spokesperson told Highways: ‘We look forward to the imminent publication of the DfT’s stocktake and stand ready to implement its recommendations.’

Highways England has similarly pledged to install SVD on all new ALR schemes from 2020 and to retrofit it on existing schemes, albeit without a timetable.

Speaking the House of Commons fellow Conservative MP Tracey Crouch suggested to Mr Shapps the new ALR section on the M20 should not open until improved safety measures such as more frequent ERAs and SVD were put in place.

Mr Shapps declined to confirm whether this would be the case and referred again to the ongoing stocktake.

A Highways England spokesperson told Highways that the stocktake is set to establish the respective costs of changing these schemes to the one-mile spacing, either before they open or subsequently.

In either case, the costs are likely to run into many millions of pounds, including the additional costs of traffic management while the changes are made.

Highways jobs

Technician - Structures

Milton Keynes Council
£24,799 - £28,785
We’re looking for talented individuals to be part of our expanding team working on everything from local schemes to... Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
Recruiter: Milton Keynes Council

Assistant Director – Planning, Transport & Public Protection

Thurrock Borough Council
Up to £104,000 per annum
Team Thurrock Essex
Recruiter: Thurrock Borough Council

Waste Prevention Manager

Camden London Borough Council
£45,504 - £52,786
We have an exciting opportunity available for a manager with an expert knowledge of waste prevention and a collaborative approach, to... Camden, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Camden London Borough Council

Senior Engineer - Structures

Milton Keynes Council
£44,632 - £49,298
Milton Keynes is a place of opportunity. Milton Keynes
Recruiter: Milton Keynes Council

Head of Infrastructure & Transport

South Tyneside Council
up to £85K
This is a fantastic opportunity for an outstanding leader to join a high performing Council. South Tyneside, Tyne and Wear
Recruiter: South Tyneside Council

Team Leader - Highways

Milton Keynes Council
£50,941 - £54,228
Milton Keynes is a place of opportunity. Milton Keynes
Recruiter: Milton Keynes Council

Highways Traffic Development Engineer

Milton Keynes Council
£34,788 - £38,813
Milton Keynes is a place of opportunity. Milton Keynes
Recruiter: Milton Keynes Council

Assistant Contracts Engineer

Milton Keynes Council
£34,788 - £38,813
We are looking for an Assistants Contracts Engineer to be a key senior member of our Contracts Team managing... Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
Recruiter: Milton Keynes Council

Team Leader - Streetworks

Milton Keynes Council
£39,782 - £43,662
We are looking for a Team Leader to lead our Streetworks Team. Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
Recruiter: Milton Keynes Council

Traffic Project Officer

City of York Council
£26,875 to £29,783 per annum
City of York Council have a great opportunity for a Projects Officer to join our busy Traffic Team. York, North Yorkshire
Recruiter: City of York Council

Traffic Management Leader

City of York Council
£35,500 to £40,710 per annum
City of York Council have an exciting opportunity for an experienced transport professional to lead our Traffic Team. York, North Yorkshire
Recruiter: City of York Council

Senior Technician (Structures)

Milton Keynes Council
£29,636 - £33,779
With several future projects coming up this is an exciting time for an experienced Senior Technician to join our team.  Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
Recruiter: Milton Keynes Council

Senior Engineer - Development Management

Milton Keynes Council
£44,632 - £49,298
We are looking for a Senior Engineer to work within our Development Management Team. Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
Recruiter: Milton Keynes Council

Principal Transport Officer (Policy)

St. Helens Metropolitan Borough Council
£38,813 To £40,760 per annum
This is an exciting opportunity for an energetic and motivated individual to drive forward transport policy to... St Helens, Merseyside
Recruiter: St. Helens Metropolitan Borough Council

Road Safety Officer (Education and engagement)

Milton Keynes Council
£29,636 - £33,799
We are looking a Road Safety Officer to deliver our education and engagement programme across Milton Keynes. Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
Recruiter: Milton Keynes Council

Road Safety Engineer

Milton Keynes Council
£34,788 - £38,813
We are looking for an experience Road Safety professional to join our team to process and analyse collision and casualty data and to... Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
Recruiter: Milton Keynes Council

Development Management Engineer

Warwickshire County Council
£37,849 - £39,782 per annum
The successful applicant for this post will be capable of taking the lead on work within... Warwick, Warwickshire
Recruiter: Warwickshire County Council

Project Officers

Buckinghamshire Council
£29121 - £38881 per annum
OverviewCareer graded posts 5-7£29,121 - £38,881 per annumThis is your chance to make a lasting impact on our county. From developing the connected tr England, Buckinghamshire, Aylesbury
Recruiter: Buckinghamshire Council

Permit Coordinator

Milton Keynes Council
£29,636 - £33,799
We are looking for a Permit Coordinator to work within our Streetworks Team. Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
Recruiter: Milton Keynes Council

Highways Liaison Officer

Milton Keynes Council
£29,636 - £33,799
We are looking for a Highways Liaison Officer to join our Communications and Liaison Team. Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
Recruiter: Milton Keynes Council

Highways on Fridays

Register now!

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

 

ADEPT: Past and present

Highways England: Present and future

Mott MacDonald: Urban realm of the future

View the latest issue

Latest Video