MPs slam smart motorway plans to lose hard shoulders

Grant Prior 8 years ago

The Transport Select Committee has slammed latest smart motorway plans to use hard shoulders as live lanes.

The “all lane running” plan is an extension of existing schemes where the the hard shoulder is used at peak times or to deal with congestion.

The Committee said that the permanent loss of the hard shoulder in all lane running schemes was a “radical change and an unacceptable price to pay for such improvements.”

Committee chair Louise Ellman said: “The permanent removal of the hard shoulder is a dramatic change.

“All kinds of drivers, including the emergency services, are genuinely concerned about the risk this presents.

“It is undeniable that we need to find ways of dealing with traffic growth on the strategic network.

“But All Lane Running does not appear to us to be the safe, incremental change the Department wants us to think it is.

“While ‘smart motorways’ have existed for years, this is fundamentally different.

“Government needs to demonstrate that All Lane Running schemes do not make the road any less safe that the traditional motorway with a hard shoulder.

“The Government has a model which has worked. The scheme on the M42 has a track record of safety and performance but subsequent versions have gradually lowered the standard specification.

“The most recent incarnations of All Lane Running have less provision for safety measures than original pilot schemes.

“Government needs to demonstrate considerable improvement in this area, including more emergency refuge areas, driver education and enforcement, before the Committee will endorse the extension of a scheme which risks putting motorists in harm’s way.”

Plans are in place to permanently convert the hard shoulder into a running lane on around 300 miles of motorway.

Highways England has a programme of 30 all lane running schemes worth £6bn over the next nine years.

Industry experts disagree with the MPs.

Simon Benfield, Team Director: Bridges South, at consultant Ramboll said: “The hard shoulder on motorways represents a perception of safety that is greater than the reality.

“All that separates the hard shoulder from 70mph traffic is a white line. Despite projecting a sense of safety, over 1,500 people are killed or injured every year on the hard shoulder.

“Research indicates that in the large majority of cases, where there is no hard shoulder available, drivers are able to push on and reach the nearest lay-by as has been seen on the trunk road network for many years.

“The psychological impact of having a hard shoulder available is that drivers are more likely to use it when they actually don’t need to.

“In addition to this, there has been an overall reduction in collisions where Smart Motorways operate with hard shoulder running in effect, either temporarily or permanently due to the effects of greater control.

“By adopting Smart Motorways over traditional widening it is possible to provide improvements in many more areas around the network thus providing a positive improvement for many more people.

“When compared to the physical widening of motorways, Smart Motorways are 20-40% more cost effective and therefore applying a level-headed approach to the opening of hard shoulders is a sensible way forward.”

Latest news

Geoffrey Osborne files administration notice

Contractor in talks to save parts of the business
2 days ago

RG Group signs £121m Newcastle rental homes job

Developer Olympian Homes advances 519 flats plan at Pottery Lane site
2 days ago

Winners named for £260m Manchester Uni framework

B&K, Henry Bros, Graham, Robertson and Vinci among new line-up
2 days ago

Shed specialist Benniman rides out market lull

Worcestershire warehouse builder says industrial and logistics work is picking up again
2 days ago

Another contractor cleared after high profile immigration raid

Adana Construction employees were working legally on site swooped on by Home Office
2 days ago

McAleer & Rushe wants to meet new London suppliers

Contractor holding Meet the Buyer event in London: Register now
2 days ago

McAlpine signs £500m Broadgate dual towers deal

Work to start on iconic 36-storey and 21-storey towers
3 days ago

Worker rescued from collapsed four metre deep trench

Fire crews take six hours to save trapped builder near Blackwall Tunnel
3 days ago

Gove puts another major building scheme on hold

Secretary of State starts another planning fight after M&S defeat
4 days ago

Greenwich University tenders £300m framework

Up to five firms will carry out upgrade and newbuild work at three campuses
3 days ago

Work starts on Manchester 26-storey Obsidian tower

Contractor Domis starts Salboy's 10th Manchester scheme in seven years
3 days ago

Race for £1.3bn West Midlands social homes framework

The Community Housing Group reboots tender race for new build housing
3 days ago

Delancey submits £400m King’s Cross lab plans

200,000 sq ft lab/office project will be built above railway and tube tunnels just 4.5m below
4 days ago

Winners revealed for £150m fire safety framework

New deal will help organisations comply with the Building Safety Act
3 days ago

Sellar plans £500m City tower next to Walkie-Talkie

Consultation starts on London 60 Gracechurch Street tower
4 days ago

Severfield ends year on high with record order book

Orders top £500m with strong future pipeline of opportunities ahead
4 days ago

Second senior director exits National Highways

Commercial director Malcolm Dare set to move on to new role
4 days ago

New scheme fuels London lab building boom

Plans in for 160,000 sq ft Whitechapel scheme near Royal London hospital
4 days ago

Contract race starts for next £155m section of A9 dualling

Prior Information Notice published for Tay Crossing to Ballinluig stretch
5 days ago

£55m Sheffield build-to-rent scheme approved

Demolition to start later this year for 158-flat Sheffield Garden project
5 days ago

London back as most expensive place to build in world

Capital leapfrogs Geneva to top costliest construction rankings
5 days ago

Gas supplier Regent to buy TClarke for £90m

£491m turnover listed building services specialist to be sold
5 days ago

Steel contractor Billington launches into bridge market

Steelwork firm hires staff from failed architectural and bridge specialist SH Structures
5 days ago

McGee employees benefit from rise in profits

Pre-tax profit doubles boosting payouts for Employee Ownership Trust
5 days ago

Lendlease veteran is latest new McAlpine director

Paul Sims joins as Operations Director after 40 years at rival contractor
6 days ago

Costain signs site labour supply deal with four firms

Contractor to use only a quartet of providers for temporary labour supply
5 days ago

BAM go-ahead for Leeds 200,000 sq ft office

Latitude Yellow will complete final plot at Doncaster Monk Bridge site
6 days ago

VolkerFitzpatrick wins £30m logistics job

Latest deal to build five distribution units for Prologis UK
6 days ago

Trio win new Scape utilities consultancy framework

Perfect Circle, AtkinsRéalis and Arcadis win places on
5 days ago

Precast firm FP McCann cleared after immigration raid

Home Office takes no action after public raid on construction site
6 days ago

Contractor services