Is the rollout smart motorways coming to an abrupt halt? Even though MPs have released a damning report on the subject, there are still more projects in progress. Construction of roads with no hard shoulder may be halted in months

  • In the New Year, no hard shoulder motorways can be stopped
  • Grant Shapps contemplates an idea while he answers to the report of MPs 
  • MPs called for the suspension of smart motorway rolling out  

The  building of smart motorways with no hard shoulder could be halted in the New Year under plans being considered by ministers.

Grant Shapps (Transport Secretary) is considering whether to make a formal response to the damning report of MPs that called for their suspension.

After existing sections are completed, it would be no longer possible to construct ‘all lane running (ALR’ motorways.

An ALR smart motorway is one where the hard shoulder has been permanently removed. It can be turned into a fourth lanes, so motorists are not able to get stuck in moving traffic.

Yesterday’s Daily Mail showed that an additional 84 mile of dangerous roads were to be opened, despite the request by MPs from the Commons transport Committee.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps (pictured) is mulling over the move for when he officially responds to a damning report by MPs which called for their rollout to be paused

Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary is currently considering how to respond to the damning report of MPs that called for the rollout to be stopped.

There will be emergency shelters at 1.5 miles intervals on the routes, in contravention of safety guidelines set by Mr Shapps which state that they shouldn’t exceed a mile.

So that the most recent data can be inspected before taking a decision on the roads, Mr Shapps won’t respond to the report of the Transport Committee until next year.

One option is to stop building any ALR smart motorways after ‘in flight’ projects are completed.

Smart motorways were responsible for 53 deaths in four years, and at least 18 of these fatalities could be attributed to roads. The Mail – which is campaigning for greater safety on such stretches – understands ministers do not believe there is a future for roads which people don’t feel safe travelling on and are looking ‘very seriously’ at setting an end date for any new schemes. On the nearly 250-miles of ALR smart motorway, additional laybys may be available.

The routes will have emergency refuges up to 1.5 miles apart, contrary to safety guidelines laid down by Mr Shapps that the distance should be no more than a mile

These routes may have refuges located up to 1.5 miles from each other, which is contrary to Mr Shapps’ safety guidelines that the distance shouldn’t exceed a mile

Campaigners, however, would be disappointed by the decision. They want nothing less than a full reinstatement of the hard shoulder. This is the preferred option of the vast majority of motorists, according to surveys.

Sally Jacobs, who was 83 when her husband Derek died in an accident on the M1 in 2019 said that it would make her sick if they didn’t restore the hard shoulder. They are waiting for a huge incident that causes multiple deaths.

“It is not murder anymore. It’s manslaughter.” We will never be satisfied until our hard shoulders are restored. I do not want any one to have the same pain as I did.

Road leaders are being asked to add more refuges for emergency situations on existing and new ALR programs so that roads conform with Mr Shapps’s March safety advisory. The transport committee’s last week inquiry also stated that emergency laybys must be retro-fitted on all schemes, so they can only be one mile apart.

Jack Cousens from the AA stated: ‘We endorse the recommendation by the select committee last Week and urge National Highways & the Department [for Transport]Install closer immediately [emergency refuges]To all plans, in any form.