Freeze no barrier to hitting deadline for M1 safety work time

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DESPITE severe weather hampering work on a major safety improvement scheme on the M1 in Wakefield, Highways Agency bosses say they are confident the work will be completed on time.

The work will replace the steel central reservation barrier with a safer, concrete one, and new lighting columns and drainage are being installed on a 2.5 mile stretch of the motorway between junctions 41 (Carrgate) and 42 (Lofthouse).

The new barriers are designed to be stronger and more robust – reducing the risk of vehicles involved in accidents crossing from one side of the motorway to the other and improving the safety of road users and road workers.

The barriers are also unlikely to require repairs after vehicle impact.

The first phase of work began on November 22 and is intended to finish this month.

The second phase will take place on the central reservation barrier and it is hoped that it will be completed at the end of March.

A spokesman for the Highways Agency said: " The barrier works have been delayed by the recent severe weather.

"However, we are reviewing the programme of works and we are still hoping to complete the scheme on schedule."

Meanwhile there was some grim news for motorists ahead of the new year return to work with Tuesday expected to be one of the busiest days for breakdowns in 2011.

Motoring repair organisation the AA said it alone expected to attend around 18,000 call-outs – 90 per cent busier than normal. One of the main reasons is a huge surge in flat batteries as many cars have been left sitting unused.

The AA estimates that more than 50,000 cars in England, Northern Ireland and Wales will fail to get off the starting blocks on Tuesday morning.

However, owing to milder weather, it is not expected to be quite as busy as January 4, 2010 when it responded to more than 25,000 breakdowns – the AA's second busiest day ever.

Paul Leather, AA patrol of the year, says: "Despite the recent thaw, breakdown workload has remained high across the country, as more people have ventured out visiting friends or family or taking advantage of the sales.

"The issue is that over the Christmas period and when weather is bad, people often tend to use just the one car, so many cars get left sitting in freezing, damp conditions for up to a fortnight.

"This is a killer for car batteries, particularly, so we're expecting workload to remain high through the weekend.''

trouble ahead: Motorists are warned of high risk of breakdowns as they return to work.