Sheffield MP Meg Munn is meeting Transport Minister Robert Goodwill to express her concerns about the Highways Agency proposals to turn the hard shoulder of the M1 junctions 32 to 35a into a live lane 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
The RAC has ‘severe reservations’ about the safety of the all-lane running schemes currently being constructed on the M1 in South Yorkshire, which will turn the hard shoulder into a permanent live traffic lane.
Under the new schemes the hard shoulder would be permanently used as a running lane and only closed to traffic via overhead and verge mounted signs in the event of an incident.
This means motorists who break down on an all-lane running stretch will have further to go to reach an emergency refuge area and, therefore, have to stay in a live running lane until it is closed to traffic by the Highways Agency.
The RAC has raised concerns with the Highways Agency about the added risk arising from increased distance between emergency refuge areas, and we are disappointed so far at the absence of action to address them.
Dynamic hard shoulder running has proved to be very successful in terms of reducing congestion and has a good safety record. Indeed, so far, these sections of motorway have proven to be significantly safer than a conventional three-lane motorway with a hard shoulder.
However, we believe the greater distance between emergency refuge areas creates an unnecessary risk to the safety of any motorist breaking down in lane one on an all-lane running section.
South Yorkshire MP Meg Munn is to meet Transport Minister, Robert Goodwill today to again express her concerns about the Highways Agency proposals to turn the hard shoulder of the M1 junctions 32 to 35a into a live lane 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Accompanying the Sheffield Heeley MP to the meeting will be Stuart Walne, Chief Inspector of Roads for South Yorkshire Police.
Both South and West Yorkshire Police are firmly of the opinion that twenty four hour a day, seven days a week use of the hard shoulder would increase the possibility of fatalities and would also make routine policing and access for emergency services very difficult.
The Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police, David Crompton has also written to the Minister to express his concern that the proposals increase the risk to both the public and emergency responders.
Earlier this year the Labour MP met then Transport Minister, Stephen Hammond MP, who gave a commitment for further discussions of the proposals before the scheme is implemented. Ms Munn will be firmly restating both the safety and environmental concerns to the current Minister.
She said ' It is clear there is a need to reduce congestion on the motorway network at peak times but the Highways Agency is now looking to do this at minimal cost rather than with serious investment in the infrastructure, as in the case of the M42. **
Cost is therefore the driving factor in these proposals with environmental impact taking second place and safety concerns being ignored. This must be addressed by the Minister and I will be pressing him on this in Thursday's meeting."**