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Highways widening schemes under threat

The Highways Agency's 2008 business plan relies heavily on Active Traffic Management (ATM), and motorway widening schemes such as the M1 south of Leeds and the M6 are likely to be victims.

ATM is to form a key plank of the Highways Agency's (HA) intention to replace widening schemes in its Business Plan for 2008-09, which was published yesterday.

The business plan outlined the HA's intention to replace "proposed motorway widening schemes, such as the M1 South of Leeds and the M6, with hard shoulder running, and those areas highlighted in the Feasibility Study where hard shoulder running could represent a high value solution such as around Bristol, Manchester and Southampton."

The plan places a heavy emphasis on new technology to cure for a raft of problems on the network: "Building on the successful trial of Active Traffic Management (ATM) on the M42, the Agency will extend hard-shoulder running on motorways around Birmingham, as well as introducing measures such as CCTV, queue detection systems and variable message signs on other parts of the network."

Highways Agency chief executive Archie Roberstson said: "A fundamental part of our work over the next three years will be to develop and deliver pioneering solutions to manage trunk road journeys and to ensure we use the right technology, in the right place and at the right time."

The development of a Highways Agency Traffic Officer Service, including the letting of a new contract to remove abandoned and broken-down vehicles more quickly is another mooted innovation.

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