Transport Minister Chris Mole has officially opened England’s newest hard shoulder running scheme, a month earlier than planned.
The scheme will cut congestion and improve journey time reliability and safety for road users on the M6 in the West Midlands.
Motorists travelling on the 11.2km J4-J5 stretch of England’s busiest motorway are now able to use the hard shoulder as a traffic lane during busy periods.
Delivered as part of a £150M contract, the new scheme follows the successful M42 pilot, also in the West Midlands, which has delivered safer and more reliable journeys.
“The M6 is the first motorway after the M42 pilot to see the hard shoulder opened up to ease congestion and make journey times more reliable.”
Transport Minister Chris Mole
“The M6 is the first motorway after the successful M42 pilot to see the hard shoulder opened up as a running lane to ease congestion and make journey times more reliable. This crucial scheme will make an invaluable contribution to business and economy,” said Mole.
“By 2015, an investment of around £3bn − half of our planned spending on the national roads programme – is expected to deliver 340 additional lane miles for road users through schemes like this, making extra capacity available when needed on some of the busiest stretches of England’s motorways.”
The Highways Agency has also launched its first ‘through-junction running’ scheme to maximise the benefits of the M42 managed motorway hard shoulder running scheme.
Motorists travelling southbound on the M42 at junction 5 near Solihull will be the first in the UK to be able to drive along the motorway hard shoulder between junction slip roads (‘through-junction running’).
This will provide a continuous four lane section of motorway on the M42 southbound from J6 to J4. Previously drivers were required to exit the hard shoulder when approaching junction 5.
Funded by the Government’s fiscal stimulus package, the £3M project on the M42 forms part of the Highways Agency’s work to kick-start the economy and help ‘Build Britain’s Future’.
Highways Agency regional director Tim Harbot said work continues on the M6 between Junction 8 (Rayhall) and 10a (M54) to deliver hard shoulder running. “We expect to open this scheme to traffic in spring 2011,” he said.