Rishi Sunak scraps plans for new smart motorways in England

The constructing of recent sensible motorways is being cancelled as Rishi Sunak acknowledged issues about security and value.

Fourteen deliberate sensible motorways – together with 11 which are already paused and three earmarked for building – shall be faraway from authorities road-building plans, given monetary pressures and in recognition of the shortage of public belief.

Campaigners welcomed the transfer, however demanded the federal government now return the onerous shoulder on present conversions.

The Division for Transport mentioned the development of those schemes would have value greater than £1bn, however added that the development of two stretches of sensible motorway – at junctions six to eight of the M56 and 21a to 26 of the M6 – will proceed as they’re already greater than three-quarters full.

Present stretches will stay however be subjected to a security refit so there are 150 extra emergency stopping locations throughout the community.

About 10% of England’s motorway community is made up of sensible motorways. They contain varied strategies to handle the move of site visitors, equivalent to changing the onerous shoulder right into a stay operating lane and variable velocity limits. However there have been longstanding security fears after deadly incidents by which autos stopped in stay lanes with no onerous shoulder had been hit from behind.

In January 2022, the federal government paused the enlargement of motorways the place the onerous shoulder is used as a everlasting stay site visitors lane. This was to allow 5 years of information to be collected to evaluate whether or not they’re secure for drivers.

In his Tory management marketing campaign final summer season, Sunak vowed to ban them.

“All drivers should have faith within the roads they use to get across the nation,” the prime minister mentioned.

“That’s why final 12 months I pledged to cease the constructing of all new sensible motorways, and at present I’m making good on that promise.

“Many individuals throughout the nation depend on driving to get to work, to take their kids to highschool and go about their each day lives, and I would like them to have the ability to achieve this with full confidence that the roads they drive on are secure.”

Stress had been mounting on the federal government to scrap the routes, which have been criticised by MPs and street security campaigners, together with the RAC and AA.

Campaigner Claire Mercer, whose husband was killed on a wise motorway in South Yorkshire, welcomed the federal government’s transfer however pledged to proceed pushing for the onerous shoulder to return on each street.

She instructed the PA information company: “It’s nice, it’s superb information. I’m notably joyful that it’s been confirmed that the routes which are in planning, in progress, have additionally been cancelled. I didn’t suppose they’d try this.

“So it’s excellent news, however clearly it’s the present ones which are killing us. And I’m not settling for extra emergency refuge areas. So it’s half the battle, however we’ve nonetheless received half the battle to go.”

Jason Mercer and one other man, Alexandru Murgeanu, died in 2019 once they had been hit by a lorry on the M1 close to Sheffield after they stopped on the within lane of the sensible motorway part after a minor collision.

Sarah Champion, the Labour MP for Mercer’s Rotherham constituency, mentioned: “I’m relieved the federal government has lastly listened to motorists and customary sense, however this announcement is lengthy overdue and I have to see the element earlier than celebrating.

“Will the federal government be returning the onerous shoulder on present conversions? Will the schemes presently in building be restored? Why now when two parliamentary choose committee inquiries, their very own evaluate and numerous campaigns by members of the family of those that died on these dying traps wasn’t sufficient to steer them?”

The AA president, Edmund King, mentioned: “We have now had sufficient coroners passing down their lethal and heart-breaking judgments the place the shortage of a tough shoulder has contributed to deaths.

“Finally the federal government has listened and we’re delighted to see the rollout of ‘sensible’ motorways scrapped.

“We’d additionally prefer to see the onerous shoulder reinstated on present stretches in the end.”

The transport secretary, Mark Harper, mentioned: “We would like the general public to know that this authorities is listening to their issues.

“Right now’s announcement means no new sensible motorways shall be constructed, recognising the shortage of public confidence felt by drivers and the fee pressures resulting from inflation.”

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