Hard shoulder M1 widening scheme is put back

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WORK to widen the M1 in South Yorkshire, by using the hard shoulder as a fourth lane, has been delayed.

Transport Minister Stephen Hammond announced the delay to allow an environmental assessment to be completed.

The decision followed a debate in Parliament called by Sheffield Heeley MP Meg Munn, who is concerned the changes will lead to an increase in accidents on the road.

South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership is also concerned by the plan to use the hard shoulder - and South Yorkshire Police has said it ‘could cost lives’.

Meg Munn said: “I welcome the decision to delay changes to the M1 pending an environmental impact. However it is disappointing that safety concerns are still not being addressed.

“I am calling for a meeting with the Minister so he can hear the safety issues first hand.”

The proposals by the Highways Agency are part of a ‘managed motorway’ scheme between junctions 32 of the M1 at Thurcroft and 35a at Chapeltown.

It will also see new roadside signs used rather than overhead signs put in place to alert drivers to dangers ahead.

Proposals to use the hard shoulder during rush hours have been shown to reduce journey times, ease congestion for drivers, and reduce accidents, but they have never before been used 24 hours a day, seven days a week, anywhere else in the country.

Ms Munn said the scheme is being carried out to ‘widen a motorway on the cheap’ instead of constructing an extra lane.

She wants the hard shoulder used during rush hours only, rather than around the clock.