Tuesday, October 8, 2013

News: 2014 start for M1 managed motorway scheme

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£300m transport schemes to reduce congestion on the M1 motorway through Rotherham are scheduled to start in 2014, the Highways Agency has said.

A ten mile stretch of the M1 between junctions 32 (south of Sheffield and Rotherham) and 35a (north of Sheffield and Rotherham) is set to benefit from a project costing between £124m and £174m to convert the hard shoulder to an extra traffic lane in both directions and variable mandatory speed limits used to manage traffic speeds and help reduce congestion.

A similar scheme costing between £163m and £221m is planned for the M1 between junction 28 (South Normanton) and 31 (Aston).

Following a period of consultation, construction of the managed motorway schemes on the M1 between junctions 28 and 31 is currently scheduled to start in early 2014 with the junction 32 to 35a section due to start in late spring 2014. Both schemes are subject to the completion of ongoing environmental assessments.

The Highways Agency has been challenged to complete the East Midlands to South Yorkshire section by Spring 2015 as it is one of four schemes to be included in a pilot to significantly reduce the delivery time of road schemes.

Barrier renewal work began earlier this summer on the M1 between junctions 32 and 35a. On the M1 junction 28 to 31 section, central reserve barrier work started in September. This improvement work will replace the existing metal barrier in the central reserve with a stronger and safer concrete barrier, and assist in the future installation of the managed motorway systems which are planned for these locations.

Vanessa Gilbert, regional director at the Highways Agency, said: "This is good news for road users across the region. The Agency is carrying out a large programme of work, as quickly and efficiently as possible, in order to invest in the economy and support growth. These road improvements will deliver benefits to drivers in the long term by tackling congestion, making journey times more reliable and improving safety."

Managed motorway schemes deliver benefits at a significantly lower cost than conventional motorway widening and with less impact on the environment during construction. Safety concerns have been raised by South Yorkshire Police over the use of the hard shoulder.

The stretch of motorway between J32 and 35a carries more than 110,000 vehicles each day and 95,000 vehicles per day travel between J28 and J31. Both stretches suffer from congestion and delay at peak times.

Andrew Denniff, executive director at Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber, said: "The Chamber has kept a close eye on the progress of the proposed Managed Motorway scheme which we believe will harbour significant benefits to businesses in the region.

"Having discussed with representatives from the Highways Agency at a meeting of the Chamber's Transport Working Group earlier in the year we are broadly supportive of the important benefits the scheme will deliver and we consequently responded to the formal consultation along those lines.

"With the road network becoming increasingly congested and the reliability of journey times becoming harder to ascertain for businesses, this scheme will hopefully improve this situation particularly during the morning and evening peak.

"We are confident and fully supportive of this scheme which we believe may save local businesses millions of pounds owing to improved connectivity along one of the major transport arteries in the country."

A start date has not yet been given for the £1.5m of improvements to junction 33 at Catcliffe which is scheduled to be completed by March 2015.

Highways Agency website

Images: Highways Agency

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