M1 Project Four Months Early

30 January 2013

The Highways Agency’s managed motorway scheme between Junctions 10-13 of the M1 in Bedfordshire is now fully operational nearly four months ahead of schedule.

Costain-Carillion JV, the lead contractor, reached the milestone after key system and technology tests were completed just ahead of the busy Christmas getaway period.

The first section of the scheme, which aims to relieve congestion by using technology to vary the speed limit, went live between Junctions 10 and 11 in July 2012. From its East Regional Control Centre at South Mimms, Agency staff can display overhead electronic signals to show variable mandatory speed limits and overhead message signs to indicate when drivers can use the hard shoulder as an extra lane. By using the hard shoulder as an additional lane at busy times the scheme is able to increase road capacity without the need to acquire additional land.

The contract was awarded to Costain-Carillion JV in September 2005 as an Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) Scheme and work commenced in December 2009. While the scheme is fully operational, further work is required and will be completed at night when traffic levels are lower.  Work is due to be completed by spring 2013.

Lynne Stinson, the Highways Agency Project Manager, said: “Work on the M1 Junctions 10 to 13 managed motorways scheme has progressed well. We were able to start testing on the remaining sections of the project some four months earlier than originally planned. This meant road users were able to benefit from the extra lane capacity in time for the Christmas and New Year holiday, with variable speed limits helping to improve traffic flow.”

Paul McWilliam, the Highways Agency’s East Region Operations Manager, said: “Our Regional Control Centre had been using the system on the southern section between Junction 10-11 since July last year but now our control centre staff and the Agency’s on-road traffic officers based at Toddington will be able to manage the full length of the scheme.”

Bruce Richards, the Project Director for the M1 J10-13 Improvement Scheme, added: “This is a fantastic achievement for everyone working on the project. Managed motorway schemes are an innovative and cost effective way to ensure the continual flow of traffic during the busiest times of the day and we are delighted to have reached this significant milestone ahead of schedule.”