The technology-driven improvements are planned for 15 miles of the M25 between junctions 5, near Sevenoaks in Kent and junction 7 in Surrey, where the M25 and the M23 intersection. The hard shoulder will be converted to a traffic lane to add extra capacity. Variable mandatory speed limits, displayed on overhead and verge-mounted signs will help smooth the flow of traffic and reduce congestion on this busy section of motorway. Work on the managed motorway upgrade is due to start in 2013/14, subject to completion of statutory processes. It follows successful completion of the widening of the motorway between junctions 16 and 23 and junctions 27 and 30 in June.
Managed motorways have been developed on the M42 and M6 around Birmingham, – known as the ‘Birmingham Box – following a successful pilot on the M42 in 2006, which saw accidents reduce by more than fifty per cent over a three-year period.
John Martin, project manager for the Highways Agency, said: “We’ve used our successful experience of operating managed motorways in the West Midlands to produce an updated design which would see the hard shoulder permanently converted to a running lane, with fewer overhead structures such as gantries. This evolution in the design of schemes, which start main construction from 2013, will provide the additional capacity required, without compromising overall safety. A managed motorway will provide much needed additional capacity on this vital section of the national transport network – easing congestion and making journey times more reliable for the 146,000 road users, including hauliers and commuters, who depend on this section of the M25 each day. We are happy to listen to any comments members of the public, including local residents, may have about the scheme, such as how it will operate, what to do if they breakdown and how we plan to deliver the improvements. We will carefully consider all concerns.”
Managed motorways use a range of innovative technologies to actively control traffic. Features include variable mandatory speed limits, opening the hard shoulder to traffic at busy periods or permanently converting the hard shoulder to a traffic lane, adding extra capacity, improving traffic flow and reducing congestion, while also delivering safer journeys. Research published in March 2011 shows that accidents have more than halved since the UK’s first-ever managed motorway scheme was introduced on 10.5 miles of the M42 (junctions 3a to J7), to the east of Birmingham. It also showed that journey times have improved since the introduction of two further sections of managed motorway, between the M40 junction 16, near Lapworth, and M6 junction 5, near Birmingham. Feedback from drivers is that the schemes have improved journeys on the ‘Birmingham Box’ motorways.
Members of the public or other interested parties can find out more about the M25 J5 to J7 managed motorway scheme by writing to the project team at Highways Agency, Federation House, London Road, Dorking, RH4 1SZ; emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling the Highways Agency Information Line on 0300 123 5000.