Monday, January 6, 2014

News: M1 through Rotherham could have 60mph speed limit

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The Highways Agency has launched a consultation into the implementation of a maximum mandatory 60mph speed limit between junctions 28 to 35a of the M1 motorway in order to mitigate adverse impacts on local air quality.

£300m transport schemes to reduce congestion and increase capacity on the M1 motorway through Rotherham are scheduled to start this year.

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).

Now the Highways Agency has said that environmental assessments carried out on the proposed smart motorways schemes showed there was likely to be an adverse impact on local air quality if the motorway continued to operate at the national speed limit (70mph).

The Highways Agency is proposing to implement a maximum mandatory speed limit of 60mph between junction 28 at Mansfield and junction 35a at Sheffield and Rotherham between 7am and 7pm, seven days a week, as part of improvements planned for the M1. The speed limit will be used to manage traffic speeds and help reduce congestion and air pollutants locally.

Smart motorways add extra capacity by converting the hard shoulder into a permanent running lane which is supported and controlled by variable mandatory speed limits to manage traffic and reduce congestion.

The proposed maximum mandatory speed limit would work in parallel with the variable speed limits which would be set as part of the congestion reduction measures for smart motorways.

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.

The Agency said that the speed limit "will need to be in place for several years" but as soon as the air quality along the corridor and in the wider area improves and the impacts of the managed motorway reduce to an acceptable level, the speed limit will be lifted.

The consultation ends on March 3 2014.

Highways Agency website

Images: Highways Agency

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