M25 Hard Shoulder To Become Lane

A section of motorway hard shoulder in Hertfordshire is to be opened up for permanent use as a traffic lane for the first time, with the scheme to be repeated on other motorways.

From Monday, the hard shoulder between junctions 23 and 25 on the M25 in Hertfordshire will be available for use by vehicles.

Then next month the hard shoulder will be available for traffic between junctions 5 and 6/7 of the motorway on the Kent/Surrey border.

In total, around 20 miles (32km) of the M25 will feature this hard-shoulder running, which has been trialled, but only at certain times, on various motorways, starting with a section of the M42 in the West Midlands in 2006.

Highways Agency senior project manager John Martin said: "Around #1.7 billion is being invested into roads in south east England by 2021 with 145 new lane miles (233km) of capacity added.

Soon the smart motorway will be complete and we are now asking drivers to get smart and find out more about how to use it, the types of signs and signals they will see and what to do in the event of a breakdown.''

AA roads policy head Paul Watters said: "Motorways are our safest roads and that is how we want it to stay. 

New 'smart' motorways depend on drivers complying with the rules of the road and safety advice.

Safety also depends on a rapid response to incidents on the part of the road operator and technology.''

We know the Highways Agency has gone to great lengths to minimise risk and build-in safety, though we do believe it has cut back too hard on the technology used in the successful M42 pilot scheme.

For example, on M25 there will be far fewer gantries and the emergency refuge area spacing is too great at 2.5 kilometres. 

At least the drivers trapped by regular chronic congestion on the M25 may breathe a sigh of relief but those unfortunate enough to be stopped in lane one may take a sharp intake of breath on occasions.''

RAC technical director David Bizley said: "We have raised concerns with the Highways Agency about the added risk arising from increased distance between emergency refuge areas, and we are disappointed so far at the absence of action to address them.''

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