First part of smart M1 motorway near Wakefield to be opened

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The first phase of the new ‘smart motorway’ on the M1 near Wakefield will be finished next month.

The £120m Highways England project aims to reduce congestion and increase capacity between junction 39 at Durkar and junction 42 at Lofthouse.

Motorists will be able to use an extra lane on a section between junction 39 and junction 41 from Saturday, December 5, before a 7.5 mile stretch between the two junctions is fully opened on December 12.

An extra lane will also open on the northbound carriageway between junction 41 and junction 42 .

Work is continuing between these junctions and a 50mph speed limit will remain in place until this phase of the smart motorway scheme is finished in 2016.

Contractors for Highways England have installed 6,172 road studs, put in nearly seven miles of reinforced concrete barriers in the central reservation and resurfaced the same length on both carriageways.

And they have also put in 10 gantries with 38 electronic signs as part of the full scheme.

Tsuwun Bevan, Highways England project manager, said: “Smart motorways are already proving successful in other parts of the country and we have now reached a stage where we can open this section of the M1 between junctions 39 and 41.

“By opening this extra lane it will help to reduce congestion during peak times for drivers by providing four lanes to ease the flow of traffic.

“The overhead signs will display a mandatory 50mph speed limit for the first week while we test the technology but as from Saturday, December 12, drivers will benefit from a variable electronic speed limit that will vary in response to the driving conditions.”

As part of the project, the latest technology is being installed to monitor traffic levels, provide traffic information to road users, and ease congestion by using variable speed limits on overhead message signs.

The latest ‘smart motorway’ scheme on the M1 near Wakefield follows similar changes that were introduced along a stretch of the M62 between the Brighouse and Rothwell junctions.