Multibillion pound Smart Motorway Project Opens First Phase
The first phase of a multibillion-pound smart motorway project to tackle congestion on the M1 has been opened in the East Midlands.
The scheme between Northampton, junction 16, and the M45, junction 17, is aimed at improving journey times for tens of thousands of drivers a day.
The government has said that up-to-date technology will help keep traffic flowing more smoothly and, with four running lanes instead of three, capacity on the motorway is being increased by a third, now junctions 16 to 17 are open to traffic.
The Highways England upgrade between Catthorpe, junction 19 and Northampton is part of a major investment by the Government worth £15bn and further stretches of the new smart motorway are due to open over the coming weeks.
Shaun Pidcock, director of Highways England’s smart motorway programme, said: “This is a significant upgrade for the M1, which connects the north of England and London, and will deliver real benefits for the 125,000 drivers who use it every day.
“We’ve added new lanes and completely overhauled the technology, to reduce the frustrating ‘stop-start’ traffic and give drivers better information to help with their journeys, while maintaining high levels of safety.
“As well as the upgrade, we have also been carrying out extensive maintenance, fully resurfacing the motorway and its slip roads and restoring it to an ‘as new’ condition.
“We have also introduced new style highly visible ‘orange’ emergency areas for use when drivers get into difficulty.
“I’d like to thank drivers for their co-operation and understanding while we’ve been building this new, improved road and hope they enjoy the improved journeys.”
When the smart motorway is complete, traffic sensors will automatically monitor vehicle numbers and adjust the speed limit accordingly.
A total of 50 CCTV cameras will also provide 100 per cent coverage of the 15-mile route, and allow Highways England’s traffic officers and the emergency services to respond quickly to incidents.
The whole project is expected to be completed by 2022.