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23 May 2011, 13:32
A major project to improve the A1(M) Hatfield Tunnel has been completed today (Monday May 23rd).
From this morning, three full width lanes in both directions are available to traffic and the national speed limit has been reinstated.
The project will improve journey time reliability and safety on the A1(M), which is used by up to 86000 drivers every day. The Highways Agency improved lighting and ventilation through the 0.7 mile-long tunnel. Fire safety systems have also been replaced and critical areas of the tunnel structure have been protected with passive fire protection. CCTV cameras to help traffic officers spot and clear up incidents in the tunnel more quickly have also been installed.
Road minister Mike Penning has been telling Heart:
“The improvements made at the Hatfield Tunnel offer real journey time reliability and safety benefits to the tens of thousands of motorists and hauliers who use this busy part of the A1(M) every day. The upgrade brings the tunnel up to the highest safety standards. Improved lighting, ventilation and fire safety systems have been installed - and new CCTV cameras will help Highways Agency traffic officers keep the motorway moving. The investment will also reduce the risk of unplanned maintenance closures.
“The Highways Agency and its contractor have finished the project on time, working hard to keep disruption to a minimum and to keep people informed. I would like to thank road users and local people for their patience during the road works and for the extra care with which they have driven through the tunnel.
"I would also like to congratulate the safety record that the project team have achieved – more than 900,000 man hours without an accident and a RoSPA Gold Award for Occupational Health and Safety."
The tunnel refurbishment, which began in 2009, has been as part of a 30 year deal to maintain and improve the M25, awarded by the Highways Agency to private company Connect Plus in 2009. As well as the Hatfield Tunnel refurbishment two sections of the M25 – between junctions 16 and 23 in Hertfordshire and junctions 27-30 in Essex – are being widened from three lanes to four. Both improvements are due to be completed before the Olympics in 2012.