Warning over hard shoulder strength

Infrastructure pressure group Britpave has dismissed hard shoulder running on motorways as “an expensive short cut.”

The Department for Transport proposals to convert hard shoulders is seen as a low cost solution to increase capacity on the UK’s congested motorways.

But David Jones, Director of Britpave, warned: “Use of the hard shoulder has the potential to ease traffic flow however these lanes may not have the adequate strength to cope with heavy good vehicles.

“This could result in ongoing, premature maintenance and repair.

“On a typical UK motorway 77% of all HGV traffic uses the inside lane. This means that the hard shoulder will be under intense pressure that it may not have been designed and constructed for.”

Jones believes that the answer is specifically designed truck lanes where the road is constructed from a continuously reinforced concrete pavement that is covered with a thin layer of asphalt.

He said: “This construction approach offers the best of both worlds: the long-term performance of concrete and the noise reduction properties of asphalt.

“The thin layer of asphalt can be replaced overnight whilst the concrete pavement should require no maintenance. If hard shoulder conversions are to be given the go ahead, then they must be constructed accordingly.

“One can see the attraction of increasing motorway capacity by using the hard shoulder to provide extra motorway lanes, but if the lanes are not up to the job then it could be an expensive short cut.”

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