£120m motorway upgrade goes live

1 Feb 2016....The launch of the final phase of the new smart motorway,the M1 between junc 39 and junc 42, near Wakefield.Operations Manager Rob Beckitt near junc 39.  Picture Scott Merrylees
1 Feb 2016....The launch of the final phase of the new smart motorway,the M1 between junc 39 and junc 42, near Wakefield.Operations Manager Rob Beckitt near junc 39. Picture Scott Merrylees

A £120m motorway upgrade which aims to speed up journeys and improve safety along a “congestion hotspot” on a stretch of the M1 has been completed.

Construction work organised by Highways England, started in 2013 and more than 300 people were involved in upgrading the seven mile stretch of road.

The first section, a five lane stretch between Morley and Lofthouse was opened in December.

And the final phase of the Smart Motorway, from junction 39 at Denby Dale to junction 42 at Lofthouse, went live on Monday.

Sandie Forte-Gill, Highways England senior project manager, said: “This was really needed, it was one of the hotspots in the region in terms of congestion.

“The road had really deteriorated quite a lot over the last few years in terms of queues so this will go a long way to improving that.”

The upgrade aims to reduce the number of accidents by up to 15 per cent.

Four lanes are now open across the stretch of motorway after the hard shoulder was converted into an extra lane.

Latest technology will monitor traffic levels, provide traffic information to drivers and ease congestion by using variable speed limits on overhead message signs.

Infrared CCTV, monitored by staff at Highways England’s regional control centre in Durkar, Wakefield, will be used 24 hours-a-day to respond quickly to incidents.

Lanes will be closed using a red ‘X’ system on overhead signs when necessary.

The converted extra lane will also increase capacity between junctions 39 and 42.

Emergency refuge areas will be available for motorists if they break down on the motorway stretch.