National Highways halts first Smart motorway job

Aaron Morby 6 days ago
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National Highways is starting to slam the brakes on new works on the massive Smart motorway programme following a call from MPs for a moratorium to collect five years of in-depth safety data.

Balfour Beatty is the first to be hit with National Highways confirming that its team on the M3 Smart motorway project should be stood down.

The civil engineering arm had built work compounds in Hampshire and was about to start phase one work on upgrading the central reservation barrier between junction 9 and 14.

But National Highways chiefs have written to Balfour stating they would now be ‘temporarily postponing’ the planned start of the £140m project.

In a statement to member firms in the Smart Motorway Programme Alliance, National Highways confirmed the phased openings of completed sections of the M1 J13-16, M6 J13-15 and the M4 J8/9-12 would proceed as planned over the next few weeks.

The decision to halt the M3 works has now raised questions about Costain’s M6 smart motorway project north of junction 21.

Work is underway on the central reservation replacement, but speculation is rife that the rest of the scheme like phase two verge works will be the next to hit the buffers.

The future of the Smart Motorway roll-out was thrown into doubt following the publication at the start of November of the the Transport Select Committee’s inquiry into the rollout and safety of smart motorways.

It recommended a pause to the roll-out of all lane running smart motorways until five years of safety and economic data is available, and safety improvements have been delivered and independently evaluated.

National Highways said that it, the SMP Alliance and the Department for Transport were actively considering and discussing the select committee’s findings and recommendations.

It said: “While this work is undertaken, National Highways have announced they are temporaily postponing the planned start of work to upgrade the M3 central reservation barrier between junctions 9 and 14.

“We will continue to keep everyone in the SMP Alliance updated with further information when available.”

The Department for Transport has still to give a formal response to the transport select committee’s report.

 

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