M1 smart motorway 'will ease congestion'

14/09/2021
Chris Ames

National Highways is continuing work to convert a new section of the M1 to an all lane running (ALR) smart motorway which will link to another smart motorway section that has been found to have increased journey times.

The government-owned company said upgrading the 23-mile section between junctions 13 and 16 to an ALR smart motorway will support economic growth and ease congestion in the area.

Work on the central reservation in 2019

Last week, a five-year-after post opening project evaluation of the dynamic hard shoulder (DHS) scheme, which was published following a Freedom of Information request from Highways, revealed that journey times had increased, providing journey time benefits valued at minus £225m.

As part of last year’s stocktake, transport secretary Grant Shapps has ordered National Highways to convert all DHS schemes to ALR.

The new scheme is estimated to cost £373m and due to be complete in 2022/23.

National Highways said carriageway, junction and slip road closures on both carriageways this week are required for traffic sensors as part of the Motorway Incident Detection Automatic Signalling (MIDAS) system, which detects traffic levels and provides real-time information to control room staff.

According to the webpage for the project, it involves:

  • converting the motorway between junctions 13 to 16 into four lanes of traffic with no hard shoulder
  • installing 38 new (and two upgraded) emergency areas with emergency roadside telephones
  • new overhead gantries and electronic signs to show the variable speed limits and provide driver information
  • new and replacement safety barriers in the central reservation and verge areas
  • CCTV cameras
  • new noise barriers and partial replacement of the existing noise barrier
  • planting trees and bushes to replace any removed during construction

Mr Shapps has said that the plan is for all ALR schemes to now have a radar-based stopped vehicle detection (SVD) system installed before opening, while existing schemes will have SVD retrofitted.

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