England’s third hard-shoulder running scheme, between junctions 8 and 10a of the M6 near Birmingham, officially opened yesterday.
Roads minister Mike Penning opened the hard shoulder lane and also announced findings of research claiming that Managed Motorways deliver significant safety and journey time benefits.
The new lane is a 6.7 mile stretch of the M6 that, in a UK first, between the slip roads at J10 has also been converted in to a full-time running lane in both directions - permanently increasing capacity on the 2.4 carriageway miles of motorway.
Mr Penning announced findings from key research into accident rates on the M42 hard-shoulder running scheme.
“These benefits show why the Government has committed to start work on 11 other Managed Motorways schemes by 2015,” said Mr Penning.
The scheme on the M6 J8 to J10a from Great Barr to Essington was delivered to programme and within the £150 million budget. It follows the opening of the M6 J4 to J5 (5.2 miles of motorway to the north of Birmingham) Managed Motorway with hard shoulder running in December 2009 and the successful M42 J3a-J7 (from the M40 to the M6) pilot scheme launched in 2006.
A Three-Year Safety Review, published yesterday by the Highways Agency, looks at accident data before and after the M42 pilot scheme was delivered.
This shows that personal injury accidents have reduced by more than half (55.7 per cent) since hard shoulder running was introduced. There was also an overall reduction in the severity of accidents with zero fatalities and fewer seriously injured.