Exhibitions detail M1 improvements

The M1 motorway
The M1 motorway
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Exhibitions are being held about the plans to open the hard shoulder of the M1 near Sheffield as a fourth lane.

The Highways Agency is keen to allay fears voiced by the emergency services about the permanent loss of the hard shoulder.

Under the changes, costing several hundred million pounds, the hard shoulder will be opened to traffic between junctions 28 and 31, and from 32 to 35a.

Phil Jones, Highways Agency senior project manager, said: “We know this will be a totally new concept for many people, so we want to listen to any comments and answer questions that members of the public and local residents may have about the scheme.

“These include how it will operate, what to do if they break down and how we plan to deliver the improvements. We will carefully respond to everything that is raised.”

South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership is concerned about the potential for accidents involving stationary vehicles.

Work on the two sections of motorway, plus a further stretch of the M1 near Wakefield, is due to start later this year.

The Highways Agency said electronic signs will be placed at the roadside at regular intervals, giving information including the speed limit - which will be variable - and incidents ahead, also whether lanes are closed.

The stretches of motorway will be constantly monitored by CCTV cameras.

Phil added: “We’ve used our experience of successfully operating managed motorways in the West Midlands to produce an updated design which would see the hard shoulder permanently converted to a running lane, with fewer overhead structures such as gantries.

“This evolution in the design of schemes will provide the additional capacity required without compromising overall safety.

“This section of the M1 in South Yorkshire, which carries 110,000 vehicles a day, is due to be operational in 2015.”

He added: “By being a managed motorway, this section of the M1 will provide much needed additional capacity, easing congestion and making journey times more reliable for the road users and businesses that use it every day. This in turn will support economic growth.”

Public information exhibitions will be held at The Source at Meadowhall, tomorrow between 2pm and 8pm, and on Saturday from 10am to 4pm. Exhibitions about the junction 28 to 31 stretch are at The Derbyshire Hotel, next to junction 28, from 2pm to 8pm on Friday, February 1, and between 10am and 4pm on Saturday, February 2.

There will also be a display at St James Church Institute, Barlborough, from 11am to 3pm on Saturday, February 9.

Call 0300 123500 for more details about the schemes.