The award-winning scheme to tackle congestion and ensure smoother journeys for motorists has now been completed on the M1 J23 and A512 at Loughborough.
Saving energy and generating renewable energy are at the core of the council’s plan to be carbon neutral by 2030, so the project was carried out with sustainability in mind.
Leicestershire County Council’s multi-million pound project has seen not only improvements at M1 junction 23, but also the remodelling of five junctions on the A512 and upgrading its single carriageway to dual carriageway.
Saving energy and generating renewable energy are at the core of the council’s plan to be carbon neutral by 2030, so the project was carried out with sustainability in mind. It trialled using hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) as fuel for the generator in the site office during the work, reducing Co2 emissions by a massive 90%.
There were also other environmental benefits. A balancing pond was created to reduce water discharge into the local watercourse to reduce flood risk. Shrubs have now been planted around the pond in a bid to attract and support wildlife and enhance water quality and biodiversity.
Councillor Ozzy O’Shea, county council cabinet member for highways and transport: “I am delighted to see this major project completed with the minimum of disruption to motorists and would thank all for their patience and understanding while the work was underway.
“These improvements will make a huge difference to the travelling public, not only on our local roads, but also by improving access to the strategic network at M1 J23, which is a vitally important route for both local and national economies.
“The environment and sustainability have been at the heart of our work on this project. We are pleased to have been able to provide better routes for pedestrians, cyclists and those people with disabilities and doing so while fostering really positive community engagement and delivering on carbon reduction.”
With thousands of new homes planned for the Loughborough and Shepshed areas, there had been concerns that traffic congestion could lead to tailbacks blocking a section of the M1, a critical route supporting the local, regional and national economies.
The programme of improvements has provided the infrastructure to support future developments, as well as ensuring smoother and more efficient journeys for motorists, pedestrians, cyclists and people with disabilities.
The scheme funding comprised different sources including developer contributions, £5 million from Highways England and £13.8 million from the Leicester, Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP).
Chair of the LLEP board of directors, Kevin Harris, said: “At £13.8 million, these works represent a major investment for the LLEP, which is testament to just how vital they are. Leicestershire’s position at the heart of the UK’s road network means that our transport infrastructure must remain world-class and fit for the future.
“Not only do these works ensure this, but they will also open up new economic opportunities as land is unlocked for the development of homes, businesses and the growth of Loughborough and its surrounding area.”
Morgan Sindall were the contractor working with the county council to complete the scheme and the outstanding teamwork between the two was acknowledged as ‘highly commended’ at the Highway Awards 2020. Judges agreed that the partnership work excelled in many areas, especially community engagement, which led to many local people welcoming the project and understanding its value.
Throughout work on the scheme, there was also much engagement with the local community. Workers took part in various projects, including creating a herb garden for a local special school, fundraising for Rainbows Hospice and collecting toys for both the hospice and Shepshed toy library. They also provided a defibrillator for Shepshed and donated Christmas gifts to Springwater charity. Engineering students from Loughborough University took part in seminars and a site visit and several virtual placement weeks were held for students at Loughborough College and Iveshead School.
Local sub contractors also worked on the project, including Loughborough-based CR Civils and Leicester-based Hanson. Siemens of Ashby provided the traffic signals.