Safety fears over M1’s extra lane

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SAFETY concerns have been raised as preparations are made to open the hard shoulder of the M1 near Sheffield as a fourth lane.

The Government’s Highways Agency is due to begin the work, which includes overhead gantries with speed and CCTV cameras, plus construction of lay-bys for broken down traffic, in April.

But a meeting of South Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority heard concern the plans could increase the risk of serious collisions.

Under the scheme, traffic will be allowed to use the hard shoulder between junctions 32 to 35a near Sheffield at all times of day and night.

Hard shoulders used elsewhere, such as on the M42 in the West Midlands, are open to traffic at peak times only.

Ken Wheat, manager of the South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership, which represents the emergency services and other public bodies, said: “At the moment the emergency services are at one about this. All have expressed concerns about how they are going to operate safely under this new regime.

“We have been in negotiation with the Highways Agency for several months and we have not yet found a solution that addresses the majority of those concerns and as a result the project does not have our full endorsement.”

The Highways Agency has said constant monitoring by CCTV will allow lanes to be closed and sufficient warning to other motorists should incidents occur.