Motorists on the M6 in the UK’s West Midlands will benefit from new signs and signals between Junction 4 (Coleshill) and 5 (Castle Bromwich), as new variable speed limits are introduced to tackle congestion. Introduced as part of the Birmingham Box Managed Motorways 1 & 2 project, the variable speed limits will operate at peak times to tackle congestion and improve safety for road users. This is the first time this technology has been used on the M6 and follows on from its successful use on the M42 and the M25 motorways. The variable speed limits will be mandatory.
The Managed Motorways program uses a range of innovative technology to actively control traffic. Techniques such as variable speed limits and opening up the hard shoulder to traffic at peak times are features of managed motorways, all designed to improve traffic flow and reduce congestion. When variable speed limits are in operation, the maximum speed for that section of motorway will be determined by traffic conditions and will be displayed on the overhead VMS. A red ring will circle the speed limit, indicating that it is mandatory.
The managed motorway system allows the UK's Highways Agency (HA) to smooth out traffic flows during congestion and to close lanes following an incident to reduce the risk of further collisions. The £150 million (US$246 million) Birmingham Box 1&2 project will deliver 34km (21 miles) of managed motorways on some of the busiest sections of the motorway network around the city. The first phase of this project is set to deliver further benefits to motorists as early as December 2009, when hard shoulder running becomes operational on this stretch.
HA project head, David Grant, says, “I am delighted that our work to introduce hard shoulder running for the first time on the M6 at peak times is progressing on schedule, and these new variable speed limits are the first step towards the aim to reducing congestion on this busy motorway. The mandatory variable speed limits have been introduced to control the speed and flow of the traffic which helps to keep traffic flows smooth around the interchange with the M6 and M42.” Motorists in the West Midlands have already seen the benefits of managed motorways technology on the M42. Journey times have reduced significantly, in some cases by as much as 27% during weekday journeys, and there has been a reduction in personal injury accidents.
29 October 2009
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