The first phase of the Midlands M1 smart motorway all lane running scheme is now open, between Northampton and the M45.
Highways England said modern technology will help keep traffic flowing more smoothly on the stretch between junctions 16 and 17, and that with four running lanes instead of three, capacity on the motorway has been increased by a third.
It said further stretches of the current smart motorway scheme from Catthorpe (junction 19) to Northampton are due to open over the coming weeks.
Shaun Pidcock, director of Highways England’s smart motorway programme, said: ‘This is a significant upgrade for the M1, which connects the north of England and London, and will deliver real benefits for the 125,000 drivers who use it every day.
‘We’ve added new lanes and completely overhauled the technology, to reduce the frustrating ‘stop-start’ traffic and give drivers better information to help with their journeys, while maintaining high levels of safety.
‘As well as the upgrade, we have also been carrying out extensive maintenance, fully resurfacing the motorway and its slip roads and restoring it to an ‘as new’ condition. We have also introduced new style highly visible orange emergency areas for use when drivers get into difficulty.’
When the project is complete, traffic sensors will automatically monitor vehicle numbers and adjust the speed limit accordingly. A total of 50 CCTV cameras will also provide 100% coverage of the 15-mile route, and allow Highways England’s traffic officers and the emergency services to respond quickly to incidents.
This project is part of the larger M1 junctions 19 to 13 smart motorway project, which is targeted to be completed by 2021-22, as set out in the 2015-20 Road Investment Strategy.