Hard shoulder to become extra lane
- Government expected to announce new scheme
- Follows success of M42 trial
- Opponents say decision is dangerous
The Government is expected to announce plans this week to open up motorway hard shoulders to ease congestion during rush-hour periods.
Following the success of a trial scheme on an 11-mile stretch of the M42 south of Birmingham, the Government is expected to extend the concept to stretches of the M25, M4, M20, M1 and M6 over the next two years.
The system works by using overhead gantry signs to advise motorists that the hard shoulder, which is usually out of bounds, is open for use at peak periods.
Supporters of the scheme say that it is an easier, cheaper and more environmentally friendly option than widening the roads.
However, opponents have said that motorists who break down will have nowhere to take sanctuary, while emergency vehicles will be delayed in reaching incidents.
The Government has responded by saying that the gantry signals can be changed in seconds to clear the hard shoulder and that there will be investment in additional emergency lay-bys on the roads.
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