The Government has paved the way for the introduction of hard-shoulder running on 800 lane kilometres of England’s motorways, including sections without planned widening schemes.
Announcing the feasibility study into extending hard-shoulder running, transport secretary, Ruth Kelly, distanced herself further from national road user charging, calling for ‘more immediate and pragmatic’ solution to reduce congestion.
The study recommended rolling out hard shoulder running to most sections of the M1, M6 and M62 where there are planned widening schemes, but also locations such as the M27 around Southampton, the M4/M5 Bristol and the radial routes around the M25, where there are no planned widening schemes.
The study found that the cost ratio benefit is ‘significantly higher’ for hard shoulder running than planned motorway widening – 7.6 against 2.3 – with the former option able to achieve most of the benefits of most planned motorway widening, but at significantly lower cost. The impact of hard-shoulder running on traffic emissions is also likely to be less than the impact of road widening.
Announcing the report, transport secretary, Ruth Kelly, said there was also a ‘compelling argument’ for additional High Occupancy Vehicle lanes, which could also be open to single drivers willing to pay a toll.
‘Allowing motorists to enter a reserved lane if they are carrying passengers or willing to pay a toll gives them a real choice without having to change their route,’ she said.
‘These are ideas that I want to explore further with road users as we work towards a Green Paper before the summer.’
The first HOV lane in England is set to open at the M606 and M62 junction south of Bradford. The study said around a dozen sites have been identified, and recommended further work to validate their potential. It also recommended further work to explore the potential of tidal flow schemes to reduce congestion at peak times.
The transport secretary also announced a further four years of Transport Innovation Funding, extending the availability of the fund to 2018/2019.
For more information on advanced motorway signalling and traffic management feasibility study see: : www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roads/network/policy/ mtorsigntrafmanagement/