Work to start on more than doubling emergency areas on stretch of M1

National Highways is more than doubling the number of emergency areas on a stretch of the M1 in South Yorkshire with work to create the new places to stop in an emergency getting under way next month.

Work to create new places to stop in an emergency on the M1 in South Yorkshire gets under way next month.

National Highways is more than doubling the number of emergency areas on the M1 between junction 32 at Thurcroft and junction 35A at Stocksbridge, with 12 new emergency areas being added to the existing eight.

The upgrade is part of National Highways’ commitment to build more than 150 new emergency areas between 2020 – 2025.

The work on the M1, which starts on 5 June, follows the addition of five extra emergency areas during upgrades to the M6 in Staffordshire and a further eight on the M1 in Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire. All opened last year.

National Highways Project Sponsor Felicity Clayton said: “The safety of people travelling on England’s motorways and major A-roads is National Highways’ highest priority. We have listened to drivers’ concerns about being able to find a safe place to stop in an emergency on motorways which don’t have a permanent hard shoulder and have been developing a programme to roll out even more emergency areas on all lane running smart motorways, in operation and construction.  

“This investment in extra emergency areas will help increase road users’ confidence. We have also put stopped vehicle detection technology in place on all operational all lane running motorways, added more signs so drivers will almost always be able to see a sign informing them of the distance to the next place to stop in an emergency, and included advice about smart motorways online and in an updated Highway Code, to help road users feel safe and be safer on our roads.”

The Government has cancelled plans for all new smart motorways – other than the two which are over 75% constructed – in recognition of a lack of public confidence. It has also committed to a £900 million investment to further improve safety and driver confidence on existing stretches of smart motorway. This includes the emergency area programme.

On motorways that don’t have a permanent hard shoulder, emergency areas provide a place to stop in an emergency if road users cannot exit the motorway or stop at a motorway service area. 

They are clearly signed at regular intervals along the motorway and have bright orange road surfaces. At 100 metres long, they have plenty of space for even the largest lorry plus a recovery vehicle and are equipped with emergency telephones linking directly to National Highways’ control rooms to get help on the way quickly, said National Highways.

To help engineers carry out the upgrade safely, the left-hand lane will be closed throughout construction.

Lanes two, three and four will remain open with a 50mph speed limit in place. 

All existing emergency areas on the M1 will remain open wherever possible throughout construction. At limited locations where it is necessary to temporarily close an emergency area, a new temporary emergency area will be provided nearby and clearly signed.

Work on this section of the M1 is expected to be complete by winter 2024.


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