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Hard shoulder running: a disaster waiting to happen?

I wonder in amazement how the M42 hard shoulder running can be deemed a success until it's proven that the emergency services have dealt successfully with a major pile up or that such a pile up is improbable at 50mph.

To take a parallel on a nautical theme, we all recognise that lifebelts are an adequate safeguard for small boats, but would we really remove the lifeboats from cruise ships to accommodate more passengers?

If this goes ahead, there will come a point when widespread use of hard shoulder running will be a mistake of titanic proportions.

-ALAN BAMFORTH, managing director, ABG, E7 Meltham Mills Road, Meltham, Holmfirth HD9 4DS

Perhaps the time has come to trial adding reduced lengths of hard shoulders on motorways to release the existing hard shoulder as an extra lane – that is between bridges – to save on bridge demolition or widening and general construction costs and probably land acquisition. This already happens in some restricted sites but is the exception rather than the norm. It would allow existing hard shoulders to be converted to full running lanes, albeit probably needing strengthening in most cases.

The question as to what happens at gantries, retaining walls, safety fencing, lighting and drainage would obviously also need to be addressed. However, the problem of increasing side slopes gradients can often be overcome with the latest reinforced grids.

It is not clear from the "Road Plan Warning" story last week whether this is proposed as an option or whether detailed studies have already been done on the safety implications of this reduced standard motorway and the idea discarded.


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