Wednesday, July 23, 2014

News: M1 in Rotherham starting to get smart

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A Highways Agency project that will include some of the most advanced technology to help motorists will get underway on the M1 in Rotherham next week.

The work, which will affect the 1.9 miles of motorway between junction 31 and 32, will introduce the most up-to-date signals and variable message signs, all capable of displaying variable mandatory speed limits. It involves significant work to existing gantries, installation of additional variable message signs, along with cabling, barrier and safety work.

The aims of the £2.6m project are to help to reduce congestion, make journey times more reliable, improve safety, enhance access to surrounding areas and benefit the economy.

The work, scheduled to last until spring 2015, will mainly be carried out during off-peak hours between 8pm and 6am. The current 50mph speed restriction will be extended from the M1 junction 28-31 smart motorway work up to junction 32.

As part of the project, a new variable message sign will be located on the M18 southbound link road at the M18/M1 interchange triangle. A £5.5m project has recently started on the M18.

The project fits between the two proposed managed motorway schemes that have recently been given the go ahead to begin construction. 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. A similar scheme costing between £163m and £221m is planned for the M1 between junction 28 (South Normanton) and 31 (Aston).

The Highways Agency smart motorway projects include plans for converting the hard shoulder to an extra traffic lane in both directions and variable mandatory speed limits but the Transport Secretary has put the brakes on the agency's plans to reduce the speed limit to 60mph at peak times to manage traffic speeds and help reduce congestion and air pollutants locally.

Dominic Beck, policy & external affairs executive at Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber welcomed the news. He said: "It is pleasing news that the Highways Agency and the Department for Transport have confirmed that the proposed Managed Motorway scheme between junction 28 and 35a is to go ahead.

"Furthermore, the Chamber is encouraged that the proposed reduction of the speed limit between the aforementioned junctions from 70 to 60mph will now not go ahead. The Chamber's Transport Working Group has, for some time supported the main principles significant to the Managed Motorway scheme of increasing capacity, reducing congestion and increasing the reliability of journey times.

"It is now incumbent on the agency to ensure the installation of this much needed scheme is timely and does not fall victim to any further slippages on its delivery. Business needs confidence that the scheme is going to be delivered as quickly and with as less disruption as is possible."

Highways Agency website

Images: Highways Agency

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