England’s newest hard shoulder running scheme was opened today by Transport Minister Chris Mole - cutting congestion and improving journey time reliability and safety for road users on the M6 in the West Midlands
From today - a month earlier than planned - motorists travelling on a 7 mile stretch of the M6 near Birmingham will be able to use the hard shoulder as a traffic lane during busy periods.
This was delivered as part of a £150 million contract following the successful M42 pilot, also in the West Midlands, which has delivered safer and more reliable journeys.
Opening the M6 J4-J5 scheme at the Highways Agency’s West Midlands Regional Control Centre, Chris Mole said:
“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 and I am delighted that the benefits are being brought to road users on this vital national transport spine a month ahead of schedule.
“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.
Results from the M42 pilot showed more reliable journey times for drivers (a 22% improvement) and safer journeys – with a reduction in the number of accidents from an average 5.1 a month to 1.8 a month.
On the M6, 96 lane specific signals, 24 driver information signs and 23 overhead lightweight gantries have been installed. The new signals show drivers when mandatory speed limits are in place, as well as showing which lanes are open to traffic. The driver information signs use text and internationally-recognised pictograms to give drivers information about the road ahead.