A £105M Smart Motorway construction contract has started on site six months early to add capacity to a six mile stretch of M1 between junctions 39 and 42 near Wakefield.
The same Bam Nuttall/Morgan Sindall joint venture that recently completed another Smart Motorway – previously called Managed Motorway – project between junctions 25 and 30 of the M62 has been awarded this contract, which has an overall value of £120M.
Key to the technology driven Smart Motorway projects is converting some hard shoulders to trafficked lanes, either permanently or at times of peak congestion. Signs on overhead gantries keep traffic moving using variable speed limits and inform drivers when lanes are open or closed. Traffic loops built into road surfaces detect when traffic is moving at low speeds or is stationary.
Smart Motorways have been in operation on the M42 and the M6 in the West Midlands for some time and new sections opened this year on the M1 in Bedfordshire as well as the M62. Two other schemes are under construction on the M25 and one on the M4/M5 junction near Bristol.
The M1 contract will involve converting the hard shoulder to a permanent traffic lane. Variable compulsory speed limits, displayed on overhead and verge-mounted signs, will smooth the flow of traffic and reduce congestion.
Roads Minister Robert Goodwill welcomed the start of work and said: “More than 113,000 vehicles use this section of the M1 every day. That is why this government has invested £120M to help improve access and traffic flow on this vital economic route, with road users and businesses set to benefit sooner with work starting earlier than planned.”
The work is due to be completed in September 2015.