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Last Updated: Monday, 3 March 2008, 12:47 GMT
Extra lane scheme to be widened
M42 hard shoulder
The M42 trial is expected to be adopted on other motorways
The Department of Transport is to allow motorists to use the hard shoulder on motorways to tackle congestion.

The scheme will be adopted following a successful trial on the M42 motorway near Birmingham, Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly is expected to announce.

During busy periods, the hard shoulder was used as an extra lane and the speed limit reduced to 50mph. Emergency refuges were established every 500m.

A feasibility study found congestion and vehicle emissions were reduced.

The hard shoulder option is also cheaper than building new lanes to tackle congestion.

'Taken by surprise'

Sensors detect traffic build-up, which trigger signs telling drivers to slow down and use the extra lane.

If accidents happen, messages appear telling drivers the lane is closed, allowing emergency services to get through.

Rebecca Lush-Blum, from the Campaign for Better Transport, said: "The M42 trial that the government has been running for over a year now has shown that opening up the hard shoulder really does work, actually.

"And we were taken by surprise by the results.

"Congestion's down and traffic flows are smoother, but crucially, because the traffic goes down to 50 mph, air pollution went down, carbon emissions went down and accidents went down."

SEE ALSO
Work begins on extra lane for M42
10 Jan 08 |  West Midlands
M42 hard shoulder open to drivers
12 Sep 06 |  West Midlands
Hard shoulder plan to beat jams
31 Aug 06 |  England

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