Wednesday, October 7, 2015

News: Smart motorway moves on

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The next stage in creating smart motorways through Rotherham gets underway this week.

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 £100.2m and £142.1m. A similar scheme costing between £168m and £225m is being carried out on the M1 between junction 28 (South Normanton) and 31 (Aston).

The projects include plans for converting the hard shoulder to an extra traffic lane in both directions and variable mandatory speed limits and they deliver benefits at a significantly lower cost than conventional motorway widening, and with less impact on the environment during construction. Signs and signals will still be used to inform drivers of conditions on the network and when variable speed limits are in place.

As part of the project, the latest technology is being installed to monitor traffic levels, provide traffic information to road users, and ease congestion by using variable speed limits on overhead message signs.

The hard shoulder is also being permanently converted into an extra lane between junction 32 at Rotherham and junction 35a at Stocksbridge to provide extra capacity.

Andy Kirk, senior project manager at Highways England, said:"Work on the scheme is progressing well and we are now in a position to start the work between junctions 32 and 34. Narrow lanes are being introduced along the route and a 50mph speed limit is in place for the safety of workers and drivers.

When complete, road users will benefit from reduced congestion and more reliable journey times as a result of the hard shoulder being converted to an extra lane and variable mandatory speed limits being used to keep traffic moving."

Roadworks have already been lifted between junctions 30 and 31 along the M1 as part of another smart motorway scheme. And roadworks are due to be removed between junctions 29a and 30 later this month.

Costain, the engineering solutions provider, recently moved from Markham Vale and took on the former Sterecycle site at Templeborough in Rotherham whilst it carries out work on the M1. It secured contracts worth around £125m to carry out work on the two schemes.

In its next "Road Period" which begins in 2019/20, Highways England detailed a further 15 planned investments. This includes a project for four lane running on a stretch of the motorway between Rotherham and Wakefield which would fill in the gap and ultimately create a smart motorway all the way to Leeds. With 41 lane miles set to be converted with schemes underway, the next project would provide an additional 27 lane miles of capacity.

The long term goal is a smart motorway spine linking London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.

Highways England website

Images: Highways England

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