THE NEWS COMMENT: Tell us why our end of the M27 will not become Smart

Most drivers will have, by now, driven on a so-called Smart motorway.

Thursday, 21st September 2017, 7:00 am

They are sections of what the powers-that-be call ‘all-lane running’.

This means the hard shoulder disappears and becomes an extra lane.

Emergency refuge areas (or ‘death zones’ or ‘useless concept refuge areas’ as they have been dubbed angrily by some AA members) are placed no more than 1.6 miles apart... for those lucky enough to break down beside one.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The extra lane is brought into use when traffic is at its heaviest.

Overhead gantries tell you when it’s open and when, in slack periods, it’s not.

Used in conjunction with variable speed limits, to which most drivers seem happy to adhere, they do seem to keep traffic moving at busy times rather than the stop-start, grinding monotony of jams. If nobody breaks down or crashes.

But should the Smart motorway planned for the M27 be extended to include the section between Portsmouth and Fareham?

It seems bizarre that Highways England has not included that section.

City council leader Donna Jones feels Portsmouth has been snubbed and claims the lack of a Smart road will set the city back decades. Really?

Will a company looking to set up in or relocate to Portsmouth really look elsewhere simply because 2.7 miles of motorway is not Smart? We doubt it.

Much of that stretch between Portsmouth and Fareham already has four lanes in both directions. The road was widened in the 1990s. The move to Smart would create a 10-lane behemoth.

Many will recall last winter when accidents on this section, both ways, were an almost daily occurrence.

Luckily, the hard shoulders had not been removed otherwise the congestion during those incidents would have been so much worse.

Perhaps this is the reason why our end of the M27 has been ignored? Perhaps not. At the very least we deserve an explanation from Highways England.