£6billion smart motorway project is dubbed a waste of money
A £6billion project to convert motorway hard shoulders into driving lanes to ease congestion has caused more delays for motorists.
Two years after the first smart motorway schemes were completed studies by Highways England have revealed benefits of providing an extra lane are soon lost to extra traffic.
One 16-mile section of the M25 recorded journey times of eight per cent longer during peak periods despite the hard shoulder being operational.
Another 10-mile stretch that benefitted from an additional lane failed to improve journey times, too.
The hard shoulder is now a full-time “running lane” on sections of the M25, M1 and M6 and is due to be removed from another 97 miles by 2020.
Stephen Joseph, head of the Campaign for Better Transport, told The Times changes had been a waste of money.
He said: “After all the billions spent and the disruption and roadworks on the M25, there has been no improvement. If you build roads, they fill up with traffic.”
The AA has already called on a rethink of the design of smart motorway as it believes the lack of emergency stopping areas is dangerous.
Currently safe havens for broken down vehicles are only spaced every 2.5km apart.
And some sections of the M25 have seen an increase of up to 11,000 vehicles a day in the two years to April 2016.
Smart motorways also include variable speed limits with motorists fined £21million in speeding fines.
But Highways England said: “Smart motorways have improved safety and made journeys faster, despite increases in traffic.”