he £205m smart motorway project on the M1 is now open. Drivers on a 20mile stretch between junction 28 near Mansfield and junction 31 near Worksop will benefit from reduced congestion and improved journey time reliability as a result. This is the first smart motorway in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire where the hard shoulder has been permanently converted to an extra lane. Highways England estimates the upgrade will improve journeys for more than 95,000 drivers a day using this stretch.
Mouchel Consulting undertook the design of the scheme, along with site supervision duties throughout the construction phase, which started in August 2014.
Working as an integrated team under the “One Team” banner with Costain, Highways England’s delivery partner, the Mouchel Consulting team successfully delivered the longest smart motorway scheme to this design implemented so far.
“The team has overcome many challenges along the way”, said Mouchel Consulting project manager, Dave Farrow. “Designing to what at that stage was a completely new standard was an exciting opportunity, which meant extensive engagement with local stakeholders.”
Key innovations include:
- Radar traffic detection rather than traditional loops in carriageway, avoiding saw-cuts in the road surface and ensuring that detection is not compromised by carriageway re-surfacing.
- Close working with the supply chain to produce an alternative CCTV technology for use on unlit carriageways. This produced an innovative CCTV solution utilising infra-red illuminators, which Highways England’s regional control centre operators found highly effective.
- First use of the new flag type gantry structure for the large cantilever information signs.
- Many new gantries mounted on existing foundations providing economic and sustainable solutions.
- In environmentally sensitive areas, alternative colours used to minimise visual impact of structures.
The smart motorway between junctions 28 and 31 includes:
- 17 overhead gantries;
- 66 electronic driver information signs;
- 74 electronic lane control signals;
- 94 CCTV cameras with infrared capability;
- 20 Emergency Refuge Areas (ERAs); and
- 32 miles of surface water drainage, 17 miles of subsurface drainage and 12 miles of filter drain stabilisation.
Highways England senior programme manager Andy Kirk said: “We are delighted that the last stretch between Chesterfield and Worksop has opened today, which will tackle congestion and improve journey times for drivers.
“The hard shoulder has been permanently converted to an extra lane to significantly increase capacity, and we’ll keep vehicles moving using variable speed limits.”
Mouchel Consulting is part of the Kier Group.