A1(M) smart motorway upgrades near Welwyn and Stevenage delayed until 2025

Looking South down the A1(M) motorway between junction six and seven. Picture: DANNY LOO

Looking South down the A1(M) motorway between junction six and seven. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

Highways England has released its strategic business plan, outlining details for building motorways – including smart motorways like the A1(M).

The A1(M). Picture: Google Street View.

The A1(M). Picture: Google Street View. - Credit: Archant

Highways England have now confirmed that work to turn the A1(M) between Junction 6 for Welwyn and Junction 8 for Stevenage into a smart motorway is scheduled to start work in Spring 2025.

When the work was initially announced it was scheduled to be finished by 2022, it was rescheduled ‘as part of the Smart motorway evidence stocktake and action plan’.

The smart motorway safety evidence stock-take and action plan was published back in March by the government.

At the time Transport Secretary Grant Shapps MP said: “What the evidence shows is that in most ways, smart motorways are as safe as, or safer than, the conventional ones. But not in every way. To ensure we are doing all we can do to improve safety, I am publishing a package of 18 measures. This will allow us to retain the benefits of smart motorways while addressing the concerns that have been identified.”

The new strategic business plan now says they “will directly deliver 17 of the 18 actions in the stocktake”.

Some of these actions include ending the use of dynamic hard shoulder smart motorways by upgrading them to all lane running by converting the hard shoulder into a permanent traffic lane.

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A current design standard reduced the distance between safe places to stop in an emergency to a maximum of one mile.

They now propose that, where feasible, the maximum spacing should be three quarters of a mile.

Highways England will continue to monitor their network and if a cluster of road traffic accidents are identified, they will investigate and, where required, take action.

Some existing emergency areas are narrower than the current 15 foot standard. They will evaluate all existing emergency areas identified to be less than the 15-foot wide standard by October 2020 and, if feasible and appropriate, widen to the current standard.

All existing emergency areas on smart motorways now have a bright orange road surface and dotted lines, as well as better and more frequent signs on approach showing where to stop.

They will install more traffic signs between places to stop in an emergency.

They will attempt to improve public perception and increase understanding of driving on motorways without hard shoulders.

The law has also now changed to enable automatic detection and enforcement of ‘Red X’ violations, when someone drives in a closed lane, using cameras. The penalty is three points on the driver’s licence and a £100 fine.

To read the strategic business plan visit: highwaysengland.co.uk/strategic-business-plan/