A £96m contract to install the technology that will allow the hard shoulder on parts of the motorway network around Birmingham to be opened to traffic during busy periods has been awarded to Carillion.
The scheme involves two main components; variable speed limits to help smooth the flow of traffic and the controlled use of the hard shoulder to provide an extra lane for motorists at the busiest periods. It will be expanded around Birmingham in two phases.
Work on the scheme is due to begin in Autumn 2008, with work on phase two beginning in early 2009. Phase one is due for completion by the end of 2009 and phase two by spring 2011.
This scheme follows the success of Active Traffic Management on the M42 to the south east of Birmingham where the use of the hard shoulder during busy periods. Average weekday journey times fell by more than a quarter on the northbound carriageway and drivers’ ability to predict their journey times increased by 27%. Safety on the road has also improved with the number of accidents decreasing from an average 5.1 a month to 1.8 a month.
“We look forward to working with Carillion to extend the successful Active Traffic Management scheme to bring benefits to road users across both the West Midlands and the country as a whole,” said Highways Agency Network Operations Director, Derek Turner.
“We expect work to start shortly after the August bank holiday and are looking to keep three lanes open during the road works, especially during busy periods to help reduce any inconvenience to drivers.”
The contract award comes less than a week after Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly announced a £6 billion investment programme to improve and make better use of motorways and other key roads. As part of this a further 500 lane miles of English motorway are being considered for hard shoulder running.
Ruth Kelly said:”As people want to travel more we need to make the most of our road network - and that means using innovative measures to cut congestion and improve drivers’ journeys.
“The trial on the M42 near Birmingham proved that techniques like hard shoulder running and variable speed limits are practical and cost-effective solutions so we were keen to roll them out to other motorways.”