The managed motorways programme is set to expand as England’s newest hard shoulder running scheme was officially opened by Roads Minister Mike Penning this week on the M6 in the West Midlands.
The Minister also announced findings of key research which confirms that Managed Motorways deliver significant safety and journey time benefits.
Road users on a 6.7 mile stretch of the M6 now benefit from opening up the hard shoulder as a traffic lane during busy periods.
The hard shoulder between the slip roads at J10 has also been converted in to a full-time running lane in both directions – permanently increasing capacity on the 2.4 carriageway miles of motorway.
The M6 J8 to J10a scheme near Birmingham comes following the successful use of hard shoulder running on two other stretches of the busy West Midlands’ motorway network. In total, more than 22 miles of motorway in the region now have hard shoulder running – and it is being extended in the area and nationally.
The Minister announced findings from key research into these earlier schemes. This shows that accidents more than halved since hard shoulder running was introduced on 10.5 miles of M42 (J3a to J7), to the east of Birmingham.
Journey times have also improved between the M40 J16, near Lapworth, and M6 J5, near Birmingham, since the introduction of two sections of hard shoulder running.
Penning said: “The Government is committed to delivering transport projects which improve journeys and help economic growth so I am pleased to open England’s newest hard shoulder running scheme.
“This will provide much needed additional capacity – easing congestion and making journey times more reliable for road users, including hauliers and commuters – on this vital national transport spine.
“I am also pleased to announce that research being published today confirms this system for increasing capacity significantly reduces accidents and reduces journey times.
“These benefits show why the Government has committed to start work on 11 other Managed Motorways schemes by 2015.”
Managed Motorways use a range of innovative technologies and operational systems to actively control traffic. Features such as variable mandatory speed limits and opening up the hard shoulder to traffic at peak times improve traffic flow and reduce congestion, whilst delivering safer journeys.