Highways England to start £373m smart motorway scheme

12/07/2018
Kelsey Vanner

A £373m scheme to upgrade a 23-mile section of the M1 to an all lane running smart motorway is due to start next month.

Highways England said the scheme will support around 50,000 new homes in the area and boost productivity by £959m by cutting congestion.

The works will help create some 60 miles of smart motorway connecting the South of England at the M25 all the way to Catthorpe in Leicestershire.

Project sponsor, Tabatha Bailey, said: ‘This is vital work to improve journeys through a busy stretch of the M1 and once complete, will boost the local economy by increasing capacity and supporting future housing development.

‘It will provide a continuous smart motorway from the M25 all the way to junction 19 at Catthorpe. This means that a key arterial route in England will offer increased capacity and more reliable journeys for the hundreds of thousands of people that use the M1 every day.’

Works will start on 8 August and will involve:

  • Upgrade of junctions 13 to 16 to four lanes running with no hard shoulder to increase capacity
  • 38 new emergency areas (EAs) and emergency roadside telephones will be installed at emergency areas
  • Provision of new superspan gantries to support variable mandatory speed Limits and driver information
  • Hardening of the central reserve and installation of a rigid concrete barrier (RCB) between J13-15 to help prevent vehicle cross-overs from opposite sides of the carriageway

Highways England said the works will provide added capacity to support the development of new houses, with some 18,870 new homes due to built in Northamptonshire from 2011 to 2029. In Milton Keynes, the council proposes to build 26,500 new homes before 2031.

The section of M1 between junctions 13 and 16 is nearly 23 miles long and provides connections to the towns of Bedford, Milton Keynes and Northampton.

Narrow lanes will be in place for the duration of the work with a speed limit of 50mph in place to ensure the safety of motorists and the workforce.

Ms Bailey said that to help drivers plan more efficiently motorists using this section of the M1 will be given real-time traffic information using the latest technology.

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