That’s smart! Highways bosses mothball plan to convert part of the M3 into a smart motorway after pressure from campaigners
- National Highways halted plans to convert part of the M3 into a smart motorway
- Work for the project in Hampshire had already been started by Balfour Beatty
- The move comes after mounting pressure from MPs and safety campaigners
Road chiefs have halted plans to convert part of the M3 into a smart motorway after pressure from MPs and campaigners.
Balfour Beatty was ready to begin phase one of the £140million project to turn the hard shoulder into a permanent fourth lane between Eastleigh and Winchester.
But National Highways stood down the company, which had already built work compounds for the project in Hampshire. It claims the ten-mile upgrade is being temporarily postponed.
Claire Mercer (pictured), whose husband died on a section of the M1 with no hard shoulder, said: ‘I’m sincerely hoping this will mean no more new all-lane running smart motorways’
The move follows a Daily Mail undercover investigation that revealed a raft of failures in smart motorway technology, including broken CCTV cameras and a radar system plagued by errors.
The Commons transport committee used our exposé to write a scathing report calling for the scheme to be halted until more safety data was available.
National Highways is still pushing to open completed smart sections on the M1, M6 and the M4. This is despite some emergency refuges being up to 1.5 miles apart.
This contravenes guidelines laid down by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps for the distance to be no more than a mile.
Ms Mercer and fellow demonstrator Jack Gallowtree protesting smart motorways by carrying a cardboard coffin saying ‘smart motorways kill’ to the houses of Parliament earlier this month
MPs and the relatives of victims killed on smart motorways welcomed the M3 news but warned the ‘war to reinstate the hard shoulder is far from over’.
Former roads minister Sir Mike Penning said: ‘Now National Highways needs to address the concerns we’ve been raising for years over these lethal roads and get rid of them.’
Claire Mercer, whose husband Jason died on a section of the M1 with no hard shoulder, said: ‘I’m sincerely hoping this will mean no more new all-lane running smart motorways.’
Labour’s Jim McMahon called on Mr Shapps to pause the rollout of smart motorways right across the country.
David Bray, of National Highways, said the works had been ‘paused’ to consider the MPs’ recommendations.
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