Government scraps all new smart motorways amid costs and safety concerns

Downing Street has confirmed that planned smart motorways have now been stopped amid safety and costs concerns. <i>(Image: PA Wire/PA Images)</i>
Downing Street has confirmed that planned smart motorways have now been stopped amid safety and costs concerns. (Image: PA Wire/PA Images)

The government has announced plans to cancel all new smart motorways over safety and cost concerns.

The change in plans means that 14 planned motorways, with 11 on pause and three ready for construction all being cancelled.

Stretches that are already in place and in use will remain, however, they will be subject to safety refits to ensure there are more emergency stopping places.

Across England, around 10% of motorways are made up of smart motorways, with methods used to manage traffic by changing the hard shoulder into a live lane.

During his leadership campaign, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged to ban smart motorway sharing: “All drivers deserve to have confidence in the roads they use to get around the country.”

Bournemouth Echo:
Bournemouth Echo:

The Department for Transport has said that the motorways would cost over £1 billion, with the cancellation allowing them to track public trust in the smart motorways.

What smart motorways are being scrapped?

These are all the planned smart motorways that have now been cancelled.

All lane smart motorways

  • M3 Junction 9 to 14

  • M40/M42 interchange

  • M62 Junction 20 to 25

  • M25 Junction 10 to 16

Dynamic hard shoulder to all lane running conversions

  • M1 Junction 10 to 13

  • M4 - M5 interchange (M4 Junction 19 to 20 and M5 Junction 15 to 17)

  • M6 Junction 4 to 5

  • M6 Junction 5 to 8

  • M6 Junction 8 to 10a

  • M42 Junction 3a to 7

  • M62 Junction 25 to 30

Three planned for construction

  • M1 North Leicestershire

  • M1 Junction 35A to 39 - Sheffield to Wakefield

  • M6 Junction 19 to 21A - Knutsford to Croft

What are smart motorways?

Smart motorways were introduced to England back in 2014 in a bid to ease congestion, making up over 375 miles, with 235 miles having no hard shoulder.

There are three types of smart motorways which were all designed to ease traffic.

Controlled smart motorways have hard shoulders but use technology including variable speed limits to help with traffic flow.

The dynamic variation also has a hard shoulder that can open at peak times or be used as an extra lane seeing the speed limit reduced to 60mph.

Smart motorways which are known as all-lane running have no hard shoulder and instead an extra lane, seeing emergency areas provided in intervals.