Press release

Testing phase to begin on M1 smart motorway

Final testing to be carried out to improve journeys on section of the M1.

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Final testing is about to be carried out on a scheme to improve journeys for drivers on a 20 mile section of the M1 spanning the East Midlands and South Yorkshire.

Technology tests will take place for the new smart motorway which is due to go live between junction 28 at Mansfield and junction 31 at Worksop next month.

The smart motorway scheme will see the hard shoulder permanently converted to an extra lane to increase capacity and variable speed limits will also be used to keep traffic moving.

Overhead electronic signs will also help to prevent queuing and keep drivers informed about the journey ahead, and emergency refuge areas will be provided at intervals in case vehicles break down. Highways England estimates the upgrade will improve journeys for more than 95,000 drivers a day using this stretch.

Andy Kirk, Senior Project Lead at Highways England, said:

We are opening this road to traffic with four lanes available while we test the technology at a reduced speed limit.

The tests will allow us to gather reliable traffic data and calibrate the technology systems along this stretch.

We hope drivers will notice a positive difference during the testing period as the extra lane will increase capacity, but the really big improvement will come once the smart motorway is fully open next month.

The testing will take place in stages along each stretch between junctions, and a 50mph speed restriction will be in place during testing for safety reasons. Once successful testing is complete, the speed restriction will be lifted and all four lanes will operate at 70mph.

Drivers will be able to take advantage of an extra fourth lane between junctions 28 and 29 on the northbound carriageway from Wednesday 2 March and in both directions from Thursday 3 March.

Over the coming weeks, Highways England will also open an extra lane to traffic on the remainder of the scheme between junctions 29 and 31.

You can find further information on the scheme website.

General enquiries

Members of the public should contact the Highways England customer contact centre on 0300 123 5000.

Media enquiries

Journalists should contact the Highways England press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer.

Published 22 February 2016