Smart motorway upgrade on 23-mile stretch of M1 to start in August

Highways England say the work will complete in March 2022
Highways England say the work will complete in March 2022

A £373 million smart motorway upgrade to a 23-mile stretch of the M1 will begin in August.

The work on the section of the M1 between junctions 13 and 16 will, on completion, see 60 miles of smart motorway connecting the south of England at the M25 all the way to Catthorpe (Leicestershire) at junction 19.

According to Highways England's website, the scheme will complete in March 2022.

Some enabling work has been undertaken since June ahead of next month's start date.Highways England project sponsor, Tabatha Bailey, said: “This is vital work to improve journeys through a busy stretch of the M1 and once complete, will boost the local economy by increasing capacity and supporting future housing development.

“It will provide a continuous smart motorway from the M25 all the way to junction 19 at Catthorpe. This means that a key arterial route in England will offer increased capacity and more reliable journeys for the hundreds of thousands of people that use the M1 every day.

“To make journeys more reliable, motorists using that stretch of road will be given real-time traffic information using the latest technology which will allow them to plan more efficiently.”

Narrow lanes will be in place for the duration of the work with a speed limit of 50mph.

Work officially starts on the scheme on August 8 and once completed Highways England say some £959m of benefits for the area will be delivered by "boosting productivity with less congestion and more reliable journeys".

It will also provide added-lane capacity on the motorway to support the development of new houses.

Motorists travelling through the area currently can expect to face daily traffic volumes of around 116,000 vehicles per day on each section, with that number shooting up to more than 140,000 vehicles per day on a Friday.

In amongst that mix, heavy goods vehicles include between 16 and 21 per cent of the total traffic flow.

Once complete, the work will see:
• An upgrade of junctions 13 to 16 to four lanes running with no hard shoulder to increase capacity
• 38 new emergency areas (EAs) and emergency roadside telephones will be installed at emergency areas
• provision of new superspan gantries to support variable mandatory speed Limits and driver information
• The hardening of the central reserve and installation of a rigid concrete barrier (RCB) between J13-15 to help prevent vehicle cross-overs from opposite sides of the carriageway