M1 60mph speed limit could be enforced

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A consultation on the proposal to introduce a maximum mandatory speed limit as part of the planned upgrade to the M1 in South Yorkshire and the East Midlands has been published today, Monday, January 6.

The Highways Agency is proposing to implement a maximum mandatory speed limit of 60mph between junction 28 at Mansfield and junction 35a at Sheffield and Rotherham between 7am and 7pm, seven days a week, as part of improvements planned for the M1. The speed limit will be used to manage traffic speeds and help reduce congestion and air pollutants locally.

Environmental assessments carried out on the proposed smart motorways schemes on that section of the M1 showed there was likely to be an adverse impact on local air quality if the motorway continued to operate at the national speed limit (70mph).

Clean air is important for human health and the health of the environment which is why an improvement scheme may be operated differently until air quality levels sufficiently improve. Options are considered carefully on a scheme by scheme basis as part of the environmental assessments carried out on all projects ahead of any work starting.

Introducing the reduced speed limit on the motorway requires new regulations; an eight week consultation on the proposed regulations starts today, Monday 6 January, and will finish on Monday 3 March 2014.

Smart motorways add extra capacity by converting the hard shoulder into a permanent running lane which is supported and controlled by variable mandatory speed limits to manage traffic and reduce congestion.

The proposed maximum mandatory speed limit would work in parallel with the variable speed limits which would be set as part of the congestion reduction measures for smart motorways.

The consultation pack has been sent to key stakeholders, such as local authorities, transport associations and emergency services. The consultation document is published on: www.gov.uk/government/publications to give other interested parties or individuals the opportunity to comment.

Construction of the smart motorway schemes is scheduled to start in spring 2014.

Anyone wanting to know more about the improvements should visit the project’s website or call the Highways Agency’s information line on 0300 123 5000.