Final phase of £120m smart motorway goes live

Highways Reporters

The final phase of a new £120 million smart motorway has gone live on the M1 near Wakefield.    

The Highways England scheme along a seven-mile stretch of motorway between junction 39 (Denby Dale) and junction 42 (Lofthouse Interchange) is the first all lane running motorway in the North, where the hard shoulder has been permanently converted to an extra lane.

The smart motorway uses the latest technology to monitor traffic levels and variable speed limits on overhead electronic signs keep vehicles moving, improving the reliability of journeys. The first phase of the scheme was opened in December between junctions 39 and 41 (Morley).

Highways England senior project manager Sandie Forte-Gill said: “We are delighted that the last stretch between Morley and Leeds has opened today, which will tackle congestion and improve journey times for drivers.

“The hard shoulder has been permanently converted to an extra lane to significantly increase capacity, and we’ll keep vehicles moving using variable speed limits. We’ll use CCTV cameras to monitor the motorway so we can react quickly to incidents.”

Contractors for Highways England have worked 2,191,000 hours over the last two years to complete the scheme. The hard shoulder has been permanently converted into an extra lane, providing capacity for an average of 37,000 more vehicles each day.

Infrared CCTV will also be used 24 hours a day to enable staff in the regional control centre near Wakefield to respond quickly to incidents, closing lanes using red ‘X’s on overhead signs if necessary. Drivers will also be able to use emergency refuge areas if they break down.

The smart motorway between junctions 39 and 42 includes:

  • Seven miles of reinforced concrete barriers in the central reservation

  • Seven miles of resurfacing the equivalent to 46 football pitches

  • Ten overhead gantries

  • Thirty eight electronic signs

  • 6,172 reflective road studs.

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