Friday, 2 May 2014

PHOTOS: Reducing congestion for commuters using the Surrey stretch of the M25 . . .


PHOTOS: Reducing congestion for commuters using the Surrey stretch of the M25

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The M25 is known for being one of the busiest motorways, resulting in misery for many commuters.

But this could change with the permanent use of the hard shoulder as a traffic lane between junctions 5, for Sevenoaks, and 6 & 7 for Godstone. 

It is part of a £1.7 billion pound scheme to help improve roads in the South East.

The improvements on the M25 are part of a new generation of technology-driven improvements on the strategic road network known as ‘smart motorways'.

However, not everyone is happy with the scheme. 

Motoring groups like the AA and RAC have raised concerns about people's safety. 

Even Roads Minister Robert Goodwill was sceptical at first: "I was a bit dubious when I heard about it myself but it really is delivering better capacity and much better safety."

"This section of the M25 is notorious for congestion, we've increased the capacity, improved the road, and hopefully people will appreciate that and have better, more reliable journey times."

Robert added: "90% of stops that happen on the hard shoulder of a conventional motorway are for none emergency reasons, people stop for all sorts of reasons that I won't go into, but only about 10% are for genuine breakdowns."

"8% of deaths happen on the hard shoulder, it's a very dangerous place to be.

"We've seen actually along the M42, where we first started running this type of scheme, a 50% improvement in accidents causing injury compared to the old hard shoulder three lane system."

Project leader Martin Potts explains how the enhanced technology will help reduce collisions: "Traffic that's coming behind the incident is forewarned of it and we prevent what we call shunt incidents.

"Sometimes you get another traffic incident where someone else crashes into the end of the queue."

Martin says that there are still safe places for drivers to go to if they need to pull-over: "There is an emergency refuge area and we have a number of these along the length of the road.

"So the primary advice is to get along that little lay-by if you can."

The introduction of smart motorways aims to reduce congestion, improve journey time reliability and maintain safety.

John Martin, Highways Agency Senior Project Manager said: “The improvements on the M25 in Kent and Surrey are part of the £1.7 billion of investment into roads in the South East by 2021.

"The new smart motorway will provide extra capacity and offer more reliable journeys for the 140,000 drivers that use this stretch of road every day.

“I’m particularly pleased that the southern section of the M25 has opened well ahead of planned completion this winter thanks to rescheduling of the programme.

“Ahead of the opening next week, I would like to ask 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.

The new infrastructure and technology that has been added between junctions 5 and 7, includes:

  • 9 gantries that span both carriageways
  • 10 refuge areas
  • 13 emergency telephones
  • 88 overhead signals
  • 33 verge mounted signs
  • 38 CCTV cameras
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