SMART motorways have been the subject of much debate and I would like to add my twopenn’orth by relating my experience on the M1 on Saturday.
Having supported Leeds United for 52 years, I was looking forward to the centenary match against Birmingham City, especially the opportunity to see my old heroes again at the pre-match presentation and even took my camera along to record this special occasion. Alas, I was deprived of the opportunity due to the closure of the M1 north of Sheffield and particularly the lack of forewarning provided by Highways England and Rotherham Council.
To its credit, the latter has sited electronic traffic information signs on all the approach roads to the town centre but on Saturday these were only offering the routine advice of expected delays around New York Stadium due to the Millers’ home game against Oxford. How very parochial when they would have been more usefully employed advising through traffic of major traffic delays caused by the closure of the country’s main North-South link literally a couple of miles outside its boundary.
However this is a small oversight compared to Highways England which neglected to provide any information of the closure at either the entry points to the motorway, or on the overhead gantries, which are supposed to provide all the information to drivers using the smart motorway.
The only signs visible were of the yellow triangle variety which contained small wording giving the fleeting impression that junctions 35A and 36 were closed and that the motorway ahead was reduced to a single lane. Why were the overhead gantry signs not conveying this information to enable drivers to leave the motorway and find an alternative route?
As the closure was apparently in both directions, I took note of the gantry signs on the M621 on the return journey in the expectation that they would advise of delays on the M1 but they were also blank.
Of course I missed the pre-match presentation, the first 15 minutes of the game and the opportunity to get a single memento of the occasion, as even the match programmes were sold out.
I have, therefore, come to the conclusion on the subject of smart motorways that, as they are incapable of conveying such basic, essential information as to their impending closure, they are utterly, utterly useless.