M6 Hard shoulder running
Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly has announced the rolling out of an Active Traffic Management (ATM) scheme piloted on the M42 to other motorways, including the M6. A decision is still expected from the Highways Agency on the proposed widening of the motorway between Junctions 11a and 19, at an estimated cost of £3 billion, and the ATM measures would certainly be preferable to this, but CPRE believes neither offers a long-term solution to the problem. It is now an accepted fact that creating extra road capacity generates more traffic. CPRE’s own studies have proved this, and it is acknowledged in the report on the M42 pilot scheme that Ms Kelly published on 4th March 2008. From the results of the M42 pilot scheme, opening up the hard shoulder on the M6 during traffic jams - together with a 50mph speed limit in all four lanes at such times – could ease congestion, cut CO2, save on fuel consumption and improve safety, but the traffic will soon build up again. CPRE is urging the government to spend the time these temporary measures will buy in coming up with plans to invest in good public transport alternatives to driving, reduce the need to travel and encourage a significant shift to other modes of transport. In the meantime, we will be looking closely at any ATM scheme that comes forward for the M6 to ensure that safety is considered, environmental issues are properly addressed, and the local road network is not put under further pressure.