A ROAD safety charity has sought assurances over a plan to shut the hard shoulder of the M27 in plans to make it a ‘smart’ motorway.
Work is set to start next year to turn the fourth lane of the motorway into another lane, controlled by electronic signs on gantries.
As reported, the Highways England scheme will see the hard shoulder on the stretch from Junction 4 for the M3 to Junction 11 at Fareham converted into an extra lane and will cost £1.5bn.
Jack Kushner, spokesman for Brake, the road safety charity, said: ‘While Brake supports controlled motorways with variable speed limits, it’s essential that the development of smart motorways does not compromise road safety.
‘Although we welcome the introduction of dynamic speed limits, which suit driving conditions and the road environment, the smart motorway design is not without risk.
‘Permanently converting a hard shoulder into a fourth lane provides a substantial risk to stranded drivers, and could potentially hinder the emergency services.
‘It is crucial that the safety gains of variable speed limits and traffic control are not compromised by the considerable risks of all-lane running.’
But the changes have won support from Fareham MP Suella Fernandes. She said: ‘Good roads are vital for enabling businesses to grow, supporting the economy and improving quality of life.
‘But for years, chronic congestion along parts of the M27 has been a major concern for local people, it’s become one of the top issues people in Fareham contact me about.
‘So I absolutely welcome the news that work to upgrade the M27 to a smart motorway will start in early 2018 – which will cut congestion and improve journey times.
‘Turning the stretch from Junction 4 to Junction 11 M27 into a smart motorway means people will have more efficient, reliable and safer journeys – we’ve seen them work very well in other parts of the country, like on the M42 and M25.
‘This highlights the government’s commitment to invest in and improve our transport infrastructure, support growth and bring jobs to Fareham and the south.’
Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage added: ‘Not only will this provide 30 miles of additional lanes, helping to ease congestion on our busy roads, it will also deliver smoother traffic flow, more reliable journey times and help reduce the likelihood of road traffic collisions.
‘This is an important investment which will benefit local residents who rely on our roads to get around day-to-day.’