Smart motorways axed: UK government announce all new projects are to be scrapped

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All new smart motorway projects have been scrapped by the UK government

The UK government has announced all new smart motorway projects are to be scrapped. In total this amounts to 14 motorways removed from government building plans.

The government has cited financial pressures and lack of confidence felt by drivers as reasons for the cancellation. It is hoped the move will give more time to “track public confidence” in smart motorways.

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Government estimates predicted progressing with the motorways plan would have cost in the region of £1 billion. The government and National Highways will however continue to invest £900 million in further safety improvements on existing smart motorways.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “All drivers deserve to have confidence in the roads they use to get around the country. That’s why last year I pledged to stop the building of all new smart motorways, and today I’m making good on that promise.

“Many people across the country rely on driving to get to work, to take their children to school and go about their daily lives and I want them to be able to do so with full confidence that the roads they drive on are safe.”

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “We want the public to know that this government is listening to their concerns. Today’s announcement means no new smart motorways will be built, recognising the lack of public confidence felt by drivers and the cost pressures due to inflation.”

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What are smart motorways UK?

Smart motorways have been a bone of contention for many years. According to the RAC, a smart motorway is a section of a motorway that uses traffic management methods to increase capacity and reduce congestion in particularly busy areas.

Methods included are using the hard shoulder as a running lane and using variable speed limits to control the flow of traffic. The three different types of smart motorway are controlled motorways, dynamic hard shoulder running schemes and all lane running schemes.

Motorway sections which will no longer become all-lane-running smart motorways

  • M3 junction 9-14
  • M40/M42 interchange
  • M62 junction 20-25
  • M25 junction 10-16

Motorways which will remain as dynamic smart motorways

  • M1 junction 10-13
  • M4-M5 interchange (M4 junction 19-20 and M5 junction 15-17)
  • M6 junction 4-5
  • M6 junction 5-8
  • M6 junction 8-10a
  • M42 junction 3a-7
  • M62 junction 25-30

Smart motorway plans for the following stretches of motorway have been scrapped

  • M1 North Leicestershire
  • M1 junctions 35A-39 Sheffield to Wakefield
  • M6 junctions 19- 21A Knutsford to Croft

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