The stretch of the M6 that runs alongside Stone is to be upgraded to a smart motorway over the next 4 years
A public information exhibition will take place at Stone Station Community Centre on Friday 2nd March 2018. The event will run from 3:00pm until 8:00pm and Highways England project team will be available to answer public queries and questions.
Construction is due to begin in March 2018 and there is a 4-year construction programme. The plan is for the 17-mile stretch to be fully operational by March 2022 and the cost is budgeted at between £232.3m to £335.4m
Highways England are using the smart motorway concept to provide increased motorway capacity. The “all lane running” motorway should allow for better traffic and incident management when it comes online.
What is a smart motorway?
All Lane Running
The existing hard shoulder will be converted to a permanently operational traffic lane. Drivers will be advised how to interact with the motorway by way of overhead smart signs. These may indicate speed limits, lane closures or other incidents.
Smart technology will monitor traffic flow and traffic levels to smooth traffic flow by using variable speed limits
With the removal of the hard shoulder, dedicated emergency areas will be set into the side of the motorway. The emergency areas will be just over a mile apart so cars travelling at 60mph will pass an area approximately every 75 seconds. The emergency area will also be equipped with emergency phones to contact the appropriate services in case of a breakdown or emergency.
What does it mean for the people of Stone?
The main thing is the concern that people may be using the A34 during the construction period as drivers opt for the A road over the motorway.
We won’t, unfortunately, know the likelihood of this until construction begins but as someone who regularly commuted on the J15 to J20 stretch, it was never something I considered.