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National Highways will start the process of adding 12 emergency areas (EAs) on the smart motorway section of the M1 in South Yorkshire this month.

The refuge areas will be located between Junction 32 at Thurcroft and Junction 35A at Stocksbridge, adding to the already existing eight emergency areas on this stretch.

National Highways have committed to building more than 150 new EAs on all lane running (ALR) smart motorways between 2020 and 2025, however only 13 have been created so far. The work is intended to be finished by winter 2024.

In April, the government announced the scrapping of plans for any new smart motorways. Instead, pledging £900 million to improve safety and rebuild driver confidence, which includes the EA scheme.

Felicity Clayton, the project sponsor, stated: “We have listened to drivers’ concerns about being able to find a safe place to stop in an emergency on motorways which don’t have a permanent hard shoulder and have been developing a programme to roll out even more emergency areas on all lane running smart motorways, in operation and construction. This investment in extra emergency areas will help increase road users’ confidence.”

In order to aid safe working conditions for the engineers, the left-hand lane will be closed during construction. The remaining lanes will be open with a 50mph speed limit. Some EAs may also need to close temporarily, in which case a new temporary EA will be set up close by, clearly signposted.

The construction will be carried out in two phases, which are expected to overlap temporarily this winter. The first phase will begin between Junctions 33 and 35a (in both directions), followed by the second phase between Junctions 32 and 33.

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