An all lane-running section of the M23 in Surrey, UK. (Image: Google Street View)
The building of new ‘smart motorways’ has been cancelled by Downing Street, owing to safety concerns and a lack of public trust.
Fourteen planned smart motorways – including 11 that are already paused and three earmarked for construction – will be removed from government road-building plans, Downing Street announced today.
However, the construction of two stretches of smart motorway from junctions six to eight on the M56, and from 21a to 26 on the M6, will continue as they are already more than 75% complete.
Smart motorways make up about 10% of the UK motorway network.
Stretches already complete will remain but will be subject to a £900m safety refit, creating 150 more emergency stopping places and improved technology.
Conservative Party Chairman Greg Hands told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg programme: “We will not approve any new smart motorways, clearly as a result of public concern and safety concern. And we’re going to keep a close eye on the situation with the existing smart motorways.”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak – who pledged to ban smart motorways during his leadership campaign – said “all drivers deserve to have confidence in the roads they use to get around the country”.
Reacting to the news, RAC road safety spokesman Simon Williams said: “This is a watershed announcement and a victory for everyone who has campaigned against these motorways that, by their design, put drivers in more danger should they be unlucky enough to break down on one.
“Our research shows all lane-running smart motorways are deeply unpopular with drivers, so we’re pleased the Government has finally arrived at the same conclusion.”