Smart motorway project on M6 in Wigan will continue as national rollout is paused

Work to create a smart motorway in Wigan is set to continue - despite a halt to the rollout nationally due to safety concerns.

Wednesday, 12th January 2022, 9:59 am

The Department for Transport announced today that it will halt the expansion of the motorways, where the hard shoulder is used as a permanent live traffic lane, until five years’ worth of data has been collected to assess whether or not they are safe for drivers.

Concerns have been raised following fatal incidents involving broken-down vehicles being hit from behind due to a lack of a hard shoulder.

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New smart motorways roll-out halted amid safety concerns

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The national rollout of smart motorways has been paused

But work will continue on stretches that are already in construction, which includes a project on the M6, between junction 21A at Croft interchange in Warrington and junction 26 at Orrell interchange.

Work started there last spring to convert the hard shoulders to provide four traffic lanes in each direction.

National Highways will also be installing radar detectors positioned along the motorway to automatically detect any stationary vehicles.

A total of 92 electronic signs will be used to set variable speed limits to prevent stop-start conditions and close lanes by displaying red Xs during incidents, while 39 CCTV cameras will provide live images of the motorway 24 hours a day at National Highway’s regional operations centre in Newton-le-Willows.

The metal barrier in the central reservation is being replaced with a concrete barrier and there will be 10 new emergency areas where drivers can stop if they experience a breakdown, with roadside telephones to the regional operations centre.

The smart motorway is set to open to traffic by spring 2023.

Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue last year called for the M6 project to be scrapped and a "safer way" found to improve that stretch of motorway.

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