National Highways to Implement Safety Upgrades on Smart Motorways, Including M20 and M25, in £900 Million Improvement Scheme

National Highways to Implement Safety Upgrades on Smart Motorways, Including M20 and M25, in £900 Million Improvement Scheme

National Highways has announced that safety upgrades are set to be implemented on smart motorways, including the M20 and M25, as part of a £900 million improvement scheme. This decision comes after a long-standing campaign to make these roads safer for drivers.

Last December, it was revealed that “emergency areas” will be installed along the sides of the carriageway. These 100m pull-in areas will be painted bright orange and equipped with telephones that directly connect to traffic control rooms. A total of 13 emergency areas will be built on the M20 and M25, with nine being added to the M25 between Junction 5 near Sevenoaks and Junction 7 at the M23 turn-off, and four on the M20 between Junction 3 at Swanley and Junction 5 at Aylesford. Construction is expected to begin at the end of this month.

The decision to add lay-bys to smart motorways comes after many drivers and campaigners raised concerns about the lack of a hard shoulder for emergency situations. In 2021, Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch urged the government to conduct an urgent review of smart motorways following a tragic accident on the M1 in South Yorkshire where two men were killed after a lorry crashed into their stationary vehicles.

According to National Highways project sponsor Felicity Clayton, this safety upgrade will increase public confidence in smart motorways. She stated, “Safety is our top priority and we have taken into account drivers’ concerns about having more stopping places on motorways without a permanent hard shoulder.”

During the construction period, the left-hand lane will be closed while the other lanes will remain open with a speed limit of 50mph. Existing emergency areas will remain open as much as possible and a free recovery service will be available during the construction period.

This project is part of a larger safety program that will see the construction of over 150 emergency areas nationwide, with 52 of them being in the South East region. The government will be funding this initiative to improve safety on smart motorways.

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