Hard shoulder to be opened to motorists

Motorists in the West Midlands will become the first in Britain to use the hard shoulder as a running lane, from September 12, in a bid to cut congestion during busy periods.

The pilot scheme is part of a £100 million Highways Agency scheme called 'Active Traffic Management', which aims to help keep the traffic moving by making the best possible use of the space available on motorways.

Drivers between Junction 3A (the M40) and Junction 7 (the M6) on the M42 will be directed to drive on the hard shoulder at times of peak congestion by hi-tech electronic signs.

A maximum speed limit of 50mph will be applied to all lanes when the hard shoulder is in use.

Emergency refuge areas will be provided behind the hard shoulder approximately every 500 metres to ensure that people whose vehicles have broken down have a safe area away from the traffic.

A publicity campaign, including advertising in motorway service areas, newspapers and shopping centres within the region, is being undertaken to inform drivers of the changes.

Roads Minister Stephen Ladyman said: "This scheme is an important part of a package of measures the Highways Agency is using to cut congestion in the West Midlands.

"This flexible approach to opening and closing all motorway lanes, including the hard shoulder, to manage traffic shows how innovation and the latest technology can be used to cut congestion."


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