DRIVERS have been promised faster journey times from three new motorway schemes announced by the Government.
Work will start to convert the hard shoulder into a running lane on two sections of the M1 and on a stretch of the M3.
The M1 work will be between junctions 32 and 35a in South Yorkshire and between junctions 28 and 31 in Derbyshire, boosting capacity by up to a third and improving journey times by up to 10 per cent.
The M3 work is at junctions 2 to 4a in Surrey and will also boost capacity by up to a third, while improving journey times by up to 10 per cent.
The M1 schemes are due to start in autumn next year, with the M3 scheme opening in 2016.
The Highways Agency previously consulted on proposals to limit speeds to 60mph between 7am and 7pm seven days a week because of the potential effect of the new schemes – known as smart motorways – on local air quality.
But Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has rejected this approach as the Government’s preferred option for managing the problem and has instead asked the Highways Agency to investigate alternatives as work progresses on the schemes in the next 12-18 months.
Mr McLoughlin said: “Let me be absolutely clear, I want all motorways to run at 70mph. While it sometimes makes sense to use variable limits to keep people moving, blanket reductions are not acceptable.”