Upgrade programme: Update on M1 Junctions 13-16 – continuation of phased opening

Since opening the first section of the upgrade between junction 13 (Milton Keynes south) and Newport Pagnell Services in March, we've continued to work to improve the rest of the scheme between Newport Pagnell and junction 16 (Upper Heyford Interchange).

Four lanes on the M1 between Newport Pagnell Services and junction 15 are expected to be available to traffic on Thursday 22 September 2022. We expect the third and final section, between junction 15 and junction 16 (Upper Heyford Interchange), to follow suit on Monday 10 October.

When these additional lanes are initially opened, the motorway speed limit increases to 60mph while we calibrate the newly-installed technology. This means it will be finely adjusted to suit the particular environment of the road where it has been installed. This can only happen when there are no roadworks, and when drivers are able to use all lanes of the upgraded carriageway. As a safety measure the maximum speed limit is set at 60mph.

During this testing phase, we maintain the temporary CCTV cameras used for the roadworks, alongside the permanent cameras installed as part of the upgrade. We'll also maintain our free recovery service for anybody who may break down during this calibration phase of the technology.

Once this testing phase is complete, the roadworks will be fully removed and a variable speed limit of up to 70mph (the national speed limit) will be introduced. We expect this scheme to be fully opened by autumn, with all four lanes running to national speed limit.

On motorways where the hard shoulder has been converted to a traffic lane, National Highways will ensure traffic continues to move freely by:

  • Variable speed limits to help keep traffic moving, reducing frustrating stop-start traffic, and making journeys quicker
  • Clearly signed and orange-coloured emergency areas set back from the road and with telephones linking directly to our control rooms
  • Detection systems to monitor traffic for changes in flows
  • Stopped Vehicle Detection (SVD) technology which can identify a stationary vehicle, typically within 20 seconds
  • CCTV cameras that our operators are able to move and zoom to monitor and manage congestion and incidents, where notified. The system has the ability to see 100% of the carriageway Signs and signals to provide information to drivers which can alert them to hazards ahead
  • Red X signals to close lanes to other traffic when a stopped vehicle is identified
  • Enforcement cameras to deter the minority who break speed limits and ignore Red X signals

This upgrade includes 46 emergency areas, with a place to stop in an emergency every 0.9 miles on average. Someone travelling at 60mph will reach a place to stop in an emergency approximately every 60 seconds.

We'll still need to carry out some finishing work and there will be some weeknight lane closures between junction 14 and 16 to install low-noise surfacing in lanes two and three. This work is expected to complete by mid-December.

If you'd like to know more about the main features of smart motorways, and advice and guidance on safer driving and what to do in an emergency, visit our new 'Driving on motorways' hub: nationalhighways.co.uk/road-safety/driving-on-motorways

Transport Select Committee

We've listened to public concerns about smart motorways, and we are fully committed to taking forward the additional measures the Transport Select Committee has recommended. We're doing this because safety is our absolute priority and we want drivers to not just be as safe as possible, but also to feel safe on our network.

You can read more about how we're delivering the recommendations from the Transport Select Committee's on our website: nationalhighways.co.uk/our-work/smart-motorways-evidence-stocktake.

Posted: Thu, 22 Sep 2022 10:29 by Sally Willis

Tags: Highways