Plans for miles of smart motorways on the M62 and M1 near Huddersfield have been scrapped due to fears over safety and spiralling costs.
It would have meant years of disruption on the 20-mile stretch of the M62 between Brighouse at Junction 25 and Junction 20 at the Thornham Interchange in Greater Manchester which would have taken in Ainley Top, Outlane and across the moors past Windy Hill.
Plans to allow continual use of the hard shoulder from junction 25 at Brighouse to junction 30 at Rothwell have also been dropped so this stretch will continue to operate as it does now.
A proposed scheme for a smart motorway on the M1 from junction 35A at Sheffield through to Junction 29 at Wakefield has also been scrapped – the Huddersfield turn-off is junction 38 at West Bretton.
The Government has announced this weekend that 14 schemes nationwide have been dropped which would have cost more than £1bn, but it seems the safety fears were the over-riding concern especially after at least two tragedies on the M1 near Sheffield caused by the smart motorway layout.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “Many people across the country rely on driving to get to work, to take their children to school and go about their daily lives and I want them to be able to do so with full confidence that the roads they drive on are safe.”
Transport Secretary Mark Harper added: “Today’s announcement means no new smart motorways will be built, recognising the lack of public confidence felt by drivers and the cost pressures due to inflation.”
While no new stretches of road will be converted into smart motorways, the M56 junctions 6 to 8 and the M6 junctions 21a to 26 will be completed as they are already over three quarters constructed.
Smart motorways use technology including overhead cameras to control the speed of traffic and ease congestion.
They also allow the hard shoulder to become an extra lane of traffic but many safety campaigners believe this can be highly dangerous, especially if a broken-down vehicle is not spotted quickly enough.
Smart motorways which already exist and account for around 10% of England’s motorway network will stay but with extra safety measures such as more emergency stopping places and better technology.
- Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting. Main image by: SEAN DOYLE