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Hard shoulder running to replace swathes of motorway widening schemes

Motorway widening schemes across the UK with an estimated cost of £4.2bn are set to be scrapped in favour of the cheaper hard shoulder running approach, the Highways Agency has revealed.

The Agency’s 2008-09 business plan reveals that 195km of widening schemes on the M1, M25 and M62 have been shelved whilst hard shoulder running or “Active Traffic Management” solutions are considered.

The schemes fall into the “Options” phase in the Agency’s new Project Control Framework which replaces the Targeted Programme of Improvements (TPI). The TPI was dumped after the Nichols Review into the Agency’s approach to cost estimating and project management exposed fundamental flaws.

The new framework is built around three phases: Options, Development and Construction with budgets only provided to move a scheme through a particular phae. Schemes in the Options phase are now not considered to be entered into the roads programme and are highly vulnerable to being replaced with cheaper alternatives.

“The Highways Agency is developing a number of projects for consideration for future entry to the roads programme,” says the business plan.

“These include schemes which were previously being considered as part of the Targeted Programme of Improvements (TPI) for conventional widening, but hard shoulder running solutions are now also being examined.”

These schemes are:

- The £382M widening of 25km of the M1 from junction 10 and 13
- The £1.9bn widening of 50km of the M1 from junction 21 to 30
- The £1.2bn widening of 76km of the M1 and M62 around Sheffield and Leeds
- The £633M widening of 44km of the M25 from junction 5 to 7 and 23 to 27.

Other schemes previously in the TPI which now do not have a preferred option include the upgrade of the M1/M6 interchange and M20 junction 10a.

The long list of schemes now being considered for hard shoulder running includes widening 85km of the M6 between Birmingham and Manchester, the M27 and M3 around Southampton, the M4 and M5 around Bristol, the M4 and M3 on the approaches to the M25 and sections of the M6, M60 and M62 around Manchester.

Work to extend Britain’s only operational ATM section on the M42 around the remainder of the “Birmingham Box” is currently in the Development phase.

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