A £1.4 billion investment will see the East Midlands’ ‘smart motorway scheme’ extended between junctions 28 (Mansfield) and 32 (Sheffield) of the M1, a move which the Government says will bring ‘major improvements’.
The project will upgrade the stretch of the M1 to a ‘smart motorway’ which will use active traffic management (ATM) techniques to increase traffic capacity, by employing variable speed limits and hard shoulder running at busy times.
This will create a smart motorway link between the cities of Sheffield, Nottingham and Derby.
Chris Hobson, head of information and representation at the East Midlands Chamber, said: “The UK’s road network is critical to future economic growth and these plans are a step toward ensuring that the country benefits from a transport infrastructure which is fit for purpose.”
“Infrastructure is a driver and facilitator of growth. However, large-scale projects are too often made political footballs, undermining businesses’ ability to plan ahead.”
“As part of its 2015 business manifesto, which was launched last week, the chamber has called for the creation of a new body which takes the politics out of infrastructure planning and is responsible for driving a long-term UK infrastructure plan which meets the strategic interests of the region.”
“Overall, this investment needs to be part of a larger road, rail and air strategy for the East Midlands,” he added.
£1.4 billion is being spent overall in the Midlands on roads, the Government revealed on Monday.
But some drivers have expressed concern about the project, raising issues with driving on the hard shoulder and speed limits.
Charlotte Mason said on Facebook: “Driving on the hardshoulder. is just asking for trouble.”
“You aren’t safe there if you break down. A lapse of concentration is all that’s needed.”
Steve Page said: “It looks like we are stuck with the 50mph zones forever then!”
Mark Roberts thought smart motorways were a good idea as long as they were used safely by ‘smart drivers’.