The future of smart motorways

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Hdeng16
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Hdeng16 » Wed Apr 21, 2021 09:33

Indeed. There are currently fairly run of the mill dull lane closures on the Dearne Valley Parkway - the amount of people who nearly hit the cones is ridiculous. Like every other day ridiculous. The signage isn't perfect but is plentiful. I don't get how people can drive in such a way and not be absolutely terrified by their own driving skills.

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Bryn666
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Bryn666 » Wed Apr 21, 2021 09:34

Hdeng16 wrote:
Wed Apr 21, 2021 09:33
Indeed. There are currently fairly run of the mill dull lane closures on the Dearne Valley Parkway - the amount of people who nearly hit the cones is ridiculous. Like every other day ridiculous. The signage isn't perfect but is plentiful. I don't get how people can drive in such a way and not be absolutely terrified by their own driving skills.
It's that driver entitlement syndrome that people insist doesn't exist. It's why I support mandatory retesting every 5-10 years of drivers.
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Conekicker
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Conekicker » Wed Apr 21, 2021 09:40

It would be interesting to see what the cost difference is now between ALR with all the whistles and bells technology and straightforward widening.

Just saying...
Patience is not a virtue - it's a concept invented by the dozy beggars who are unable to think quickly enough.

XC70
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by XC70 » Wed Apr 21, 2021 09:42

Conekicker wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 19:13
One might muse that the existing SM sections which have experienced fatalities would be amongst the first to have SVD fitted.
SVD "white cones on poles" have started appearing between 32 and 34 M1 near meadowhall. I believe this is one of the more high profile sections.

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Bryn666
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Bryn666 » Wed Apr 21, 2021 09:48

Conekicker wrote:
Wed Apr 21, 2021 09:40
It would be interesting to see what the cost difference is now between ALR with all the whistles and bells technology and straightforward widening.

Just saying...
The real 'genius' of it is avoiding the costly public inquiries that any widenings requiring 1mm of landtake will cause. It'll still all end in tears when entire motorways are closed for maintenance because of the loss of the lateral safety zone the hard shoulder used to provide.
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XC70
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by XC70 » Wed Apr 21, 2021 09:52

Whilst I agree that drivers are not perfect, what this whole debacle has highlighted is that HE are asleep on the job.

They oversold smart motorways with their infamous 100 percent CCTV coverage BS they put out and now reality is coming home to bite them.

I saw an accident on M1 n/b just after J30 when coming s/b about 4 weeks ago. There was a 1 series sideways in lanes 2 and 3, multiple vehicles stopped, people walking in the live lanes and solid traffic for at least a mile until I came off at J30. I looked in my mirror and nothing n/b was red crossed on the VMS. I rang HE. The operator told me this was the first report and they knew nothing about it! So solid traffic. Car sideways and still HE don't notice in their control room.....

Also, it is only in the past 3 weeks that HE have eventually updated their phone system to provide an option to report a breakdown as option 1. Before that options were Debris or advisor I think, but nothing for breakdown....

Conekicker
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Conekicker » Wed Apr 21, 2021 10:08

Bryn666 wrote:
Wed Apr 21, 2021 09:48
Conekicker wrote:
Wed Apr 21, 2021 09:40
It would be interesting to see what the cost difference is now between ALR with all the whistles and bells technology and straightforward widening.

Just saying...
The real 'genius' of it is avoiding the costly public inquiries that any widenings requiring 1mm of landtake will cause. It'll still all end in tears when entire motorways are closed for maintenance because of the loss of the lateral safety zone the hard shoulder used to provide.
Quite. ALR happened due to capacity problems, 3 lanes weren't enough, a fourth was needed and the figures were (allegedly) such that ALR was cheaper than widening. Whether ALR is still cheaper, when one considers all the current requirements, would be a very interesting question to get an answer to.

Now when some serious maintenance is required in future, 24/7 stuff, not simple overnight works, traffic will have to be reduced to, at best, 3 narrowed lanes during daylight. Single lane running is likely to be the norm at night, with scheme durations being longer due to the need to keep daytime traffic flowing as well as possible. All causing queues on the approaches. Whether the technology will work through those narrowed lanes is something else to consider, given that MIDAS is usually turned off when roadworks are present.

Contraflow won't be an easy option because there's now a concrete barrier in the central reserve, placed on a thin construction that isn't really trafficable. Old, trafficable crossovers exist but their locations are now lost as almost all the central reserve is now paved, so spotting the thicker old crossovers is difficult to impossible.

One (and the minister) should also remember there are some sections of ALR motorway that are not amenable to full closures, due to the lack of suitable non-motorway routes between junctions capable of taking motorway traffic, due to various physical restrictions off-motorway, such as low bridges.
Patience is not a virtue - it's a concept invented by the dozy beggars who are unable to think quickly enough.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by SteveA30 » Wed Apr 21, 2021 10:42

Looking forward to all this on extra M3 and M5 closures. Every cloud etc. Regarding drivers almost hitting cones or whatever, I would think gadget distraction is the most common reason, an increasing menace on our roads. If SM does end up costing more than proper widening good, hopefully a lesson learned, although I doubt it will be.
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by WHBM » Wed Apr 21, 2021 10:45

Conekicker wrote:
Wed Apr 21, 2021 10:08

Now when some serious maintenance is required in future, 24/7 stuff, not simple overnight works, traffic will have to be reduced to, at best, 3 narrowed lanes during daylight. Single lane running is likely to be the norm at night, with scheme durations being longer due to the need to keep daytime traffic flowing as well as possible. All causing queues on the approaches. Whether the technology will work through those narrowed lanes is something else to consider, given that MIDAS is usually turned off when roadworks are present.

Contraflow won't be an easy option because there's now a concrete barrier in the central reserve, placed on a thin construction that isn't really trafficable. Old, trafficable crossovers exist but their locations are now lost as almost all the central reserve is now paved, so spotting the thicker old crossovers is difficult to impossible.

One (and the minister) should also remember there are some sections of ALR motorway that are not amenable to full closures, due to the lack of suitable non-motorway routes between junctions capable of taking motorway traffic, due to various physical restrictions off-motorway, such as low bridges.
This is very apparent currently on the M25 north side eastbound J23-25, where just two additional ERA are being installed. It seems to have taken 12 months of reduction to 3 narrowed lanes, throughout, and a 50mph limit. Still going on. I've just had a look at the traffic, it's dead slow there right now, 11am in lockdown. Inevitably for two small worksites, themselves several miles apart (there's a Mk 1 ERA in between) it's been done as a single lengthy section of reduction, must be 6 miles long.

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Chris5156
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Chris5156 » Wed Apr 21, 2021 11:21

Bryn666 wrote:
Wed Apr 21, 2021 09:48
It'll still all end in tears when entire motorways are closed for maintenance because of the loss of the lateral safety zone the hard shoulder used to provide.
That's already happening - the M4 has been regularly closed for whole weekends, from the M25 to Slough, for the last couple of years as part of the Smart Motorway works, because the existing road has no continuous hard shoulder. I expect that will become more common.

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jackal
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by jackal » Wed Apr 21, 2021 11:30

Conekicker wrote:
Wed Apr 21, 2021 09:40
It would be interesting to see what the cost difference is now between ALR with all the whistles and bells technology and straightforward widening.

Just saying...
M6 J13-J15 smart motorway, £232.3-£335.4 million, Length: 16 miles, £17.7m per mile
M27 J4-J11 smart motorway, £244 million, Length: 14 miles, £17.4m per mile.
A12: Chelmsford to A120 widening, £1045m-£1268m, Length: 15 miles, £77.1m per mile.

So widening is about four times as expensive.

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jackal
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by jackal » Wed Apr 21, 2021 11:35

And similar results when I looked at the M25 schemes a while back:
jackal wrote:
Fri Jan 17, 2020 08:31
Ten years ago conventional widening was dominating spending and there was near unanimous resentment of it on SABRE. Might I remind you of the glorious M25 widening schemes:

J27-30 discontinuous HS, open 2012, £583m/17 miles = £34m per mile
J16-23 full HS, open 2012, £3.4bn/22 miles = £154.5m per mile(!)

Compare that to subsequent ALR schemes:

J5-7 ALR, open 2014, £129m/11 miles = £11.7m per mile
J23-27 ALR, open 2015, £180m 17 miles = £10.6m per mile

Just once I'd love to see the opponents of ALR actually try to justify spending several times as much on widening, and how that would mean more money for junctions and offline improvements rather than (as basic arithmetic would suggest) billions less.

(Prices taken from CBRD: http://www.roads.org.uk/road-schemes/co ... region=All)
The J16-23 price is abnormally high as it was DBFO, but even cut it to a third or less (e.g., £50m per mile) and it's still several times more expensive than comparable ALR schemes.

XC70
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by XC70 » Wed Apr 21, 2021 11:39

So if SVD detection actually works then the smart motorways should be safer in pretty much all circumstances and significantly cheaper to boot?

Which just leaves the maintenance issue......

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by liam-2001 » Thu Apr 22, 2021 13:20

First off, my apologies as this is sure to have been previously covered, but as a summary of the facts, smart motorways are statistically safer than conventional motorways despite their perception by many?

Is this despite the lack of hard shoulder, that is to say, a motorway with all the smart features (the main one being constant speed enforcement) but with a hard shoulder would be safer still?

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Chris5156
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Chris5156 » Thu Apr 22, 2021 14:57

liam-2001 wrote:
Thu Apr 22, 2021 13:20
Is this despite the lack of hard shoulder, that is to say, a motorway with all the smart features (the main one being constant speed enforcement) but with a hard shoulder would be safer still?
Possibly, but that's not a simple projection to make. The statistics show Smart Motorways to be safer because they have better compliance with speed limits (due to frequent speed cameras), fewer rear-end shunts etc. due to electronic signs, and so on - all those things could be installed on a motorway with a hard shoulder, which would theoretically make it safer still.

However, against that is the risk of vehicles and people on the hard shoulder being struck by moving vehicles, which tend to be horrible events and which are magnified in numbers on regular motorways, not just because that kind of stop is possible on a road with a hard shoulder, but also because the existence of a hard shoulder seems to cause people to make non-emergency stops that they wouldn't otherwise make - pulling over for a call of nature or to use the phone for example. So the number of people needlessly stopping and putting themselves in danger would go up if you installed hard shoulders. Whether that would be enough to tip the balance or whether a Smart Motorway plus hard shoulders would prove to be safer, I couldn't say.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by EpicChef » Thu Apr 22, 2021 17:29

I agree with you Chris - and even if full widening were to take place I would support the use of VSL and MS4 message signs
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Peter Freeman » Fri Jun 11, 2021 13:12

There's an extremely interesting safety and capacity article in the latest Highways Magazine Vol 90 #5 pages 28-29. Casts doubt on smart ALR favouring 'controlled' (smarts while retaining shoulder).
Link -
https://edition.pagesuite-professional. ... 217f71d22c

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by DB617 » Fri Jun 11, 2021 15:27

From what I've seen, the smart motorway between M4 J24-J28 has been discontinued due to the 50mph permanent speed limit installation. I wasn't sure it would be, but the overhead signals now only indicate advisory limits in congestion. I suspect this is required due to the removal of the 'variable speed limit' signage. Is this the first example of a smart motorway installation being permanently disused?

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by EpicChef » Fri Jun 11, 2021 16:30

DB617 wrote:
Fri Jun 11, 2021 15:27
From what I've seen, the smart motorway between M4 J24-J28 has been discontinued due to the 50mph permanent speed limit installation. I wasn't sure it would be, but the overhead signals now only indicate advisory limits in congestion. I suspect this is required due to the removal of the 'variable speed limit' signage. Is this the first example of a smart motorway installation being permanently disused?
Perhaps - but what was the need for a fixed limit?
Perhaps with the M4 in Newport being the only managed motorway installation in Wales, Traffic Wales wanted to not bother about it anymore?
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Vierwielen » Fri Jun 11, 2021 16:50

Chris5156 wrote:
Thu Apr 22, 2021 14:57
... but also because the existence of a hard shoulder seems to cause people to make non-emergency stops that they wouldn't otherwise make - pulling over for a call of nature ...
The need to pull over to answer a call of nature can be attributed to a failure on the part of the HA to provide enough MSAs. For example, if you are driving along the M1-M25-M3, then there is a 92 km (58 mile) gap between the Toddington Services on the M1 and the Fleet Services on the M3. One of my wife's complaints was that she once drove my son and his girlfriend to Luton Airport from Fleet and had to either pay a "kings ransom" top use the loo at Luton Airport or to do a round trip of over two hours without a loo in sight.

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