East and West Midlands emergency area retrofit programme

We’re building additional emergency areas on our all lane running smart motorways in the Midlands.

Start date April 2024
End date Spring 2025
Cost £390 million national programme

Latest updates

  • 20 March 2024

    East and West Midlands emergency area retrofit programme announced

    The safety and confidence of people travelling on England’s motorways and major A-roads is our highest priority.

    We’ve been listening to your concerns and have developed a programme to create additional emergency areas on sections of all lane running (ALR) smart motorway across the country.

    Emergency areas provide a place to stop in an emergency if you can't exit the motorway or stop at a motorway service area.

    They're clearly signed at regular intervals along the motorway and have bright orange road surfaces to help you identify them. At 100 metres long they have plenty of space for even the largest lorry plus a recovery vehicle, and they're equipped with emergency telephones linking directly to our control rooms to get help on the way quickly. 

    What are we doing in the Midlands?

    Work to create extra emergency areas on motorways across the Midlands starts in spring 2024, with a coordinated series of upgrades getting underway along the M1 and nearby on the M5.

    We'll retrofit 56 new emergency areas on four motorway stretches across the Midlands:

    • M1 between junctions 23a and 25 in Leicestershire and Derbyshire – 6 new emergency areas
    • M1 between junctions 28 and 30 in Derbyshire – 20 new emergency areas
    • M1 between junctions 16 and 19 in Northamptonshire – 20 new emergency areas
    • M5 between junctions 4a and 6 in Worcestershire – 10 new emergency areas

    The exact number of emergency areas on each section of motorway may change. This is because we can't rule out finding unexpected conditions which prevent work at any individual location after constructions begins.

    We’ll deliver this work in phases, starting spring 2024, and expect to complete our work by spring 2025.

    How will this work affect journeys?

    To carry out our work safely, lane one of the motorways listed above will be closed throughout the duration of our work. Lanes two, three and four will remain open with a 50mph speed limit in place.

    CCTV cameras will continue to monitor the carriageway and 24-hour free recovery will be in operation.

    The lane one closure will be installed overnight using a temporary barrier to protect our workforce and the travelling public. We always do our best to minimise disruption and we apologise in advance should this work cause an inconvenience to you.

    Existing emergency areas on the motorways will remain open wherever possible. At limited locations where it's necessary to temporarily close an emergency area, a temporary emergency area will be provided nearby and clearly signed.

    Where can I find out more information?

    Find out more about our national emergency area retrofit programme.

    Email the project team directly at EAretrofit@nationalhighways.co.uk.

Project information

View a scheme

You can view more details about schemes taking place in the Midlands below:

We'll build six additional emergency areas between junctions 23a and 25 of the M1 by the end of November 2024.

Between early February and late March 2024, we closed one lane of the motorway so our team could safely clear vegetation. We've maintained the lane closure to enable the installation of signage, CCTV and safety barriers.

On occasion we may require additional closures which we'll notify road users of in advance, as below.

The following closures will be in place overnight from 9pm until 6am:

Date

Closure and Diversion Route

15-17, 25 April and 1 May 2024

Full closure of M1 southbound J25 entry slip road

Diversion via M1 J26

18-19 and 22-24 April 2024

Full closure of M1 northbound J24a entry slip road

Diversion via M1 J23

22 April 2024

 

Full closure of M1 northbound J24  entry slip road

Diversion via M1 J23

25 April 2024

Full closure of M1 southbound J25 exit slip road

Diversion via M1 J24

29 April 2024

 

Full closure of M1 southbound J24 and 24a exit slip roads

Diversion via M1 J23

30 April and 2 May 2024

 

Full closure of M1 southbound J24 and 24a entry slip roads

Diversion via M1 J25

We’re sorry for the disruption this work may cause to your journey and we encourage drivers to plan ahead and allow extra time when travelling. All closures are subject to change at short notice due to unforeseen circumstances or poor weather conditions. Please check this webpage and our X (formerly Twitter) account (@HighwaysEMIDS) before travelling for the latest information.

Details of all full closures on England’s motorways and major A roads over the next week can be found at: www.nationalhighways.co.uk/travel-updates/road-closure-report.

We'll build 20 additional emergency areas between junctions 28 and 30 of the M1 with construction work starting from Tuesday 2 April 2024. Our work is scheduled to be complete by the end of January 2025.

We’re building 20 additional emergency areas between junctions 16 and 19 of the M1. Our work is scheduled to be complete by the end of March 2025.

In preparation for the start of main construction, we've cleared vegetation and will begin to install safety barriers, CCTV and signage.

On occasion we may require to put in place closures so our team can work safely. We'll notify drivers in advance of these closures, as below.

The following lane closures will be in place overnight between 9.00pm and 6.00am:

Date

Closure

8-23 April 2024

Lanes 1/2/3 closed M1 northbound from Watford Gap services to J18

8-10 April 2024

Lanes 1/2/3 closed M1 northbound from J18 to J19

18 April 2024

Lanes 1/2/3 closed M1 northbound from J18 to J19

8-10 April 2024

Lanes 1/2/3 closed M1 southbound from J16 to Watford Gap services

11-19 April 2024

Lanes 1/2/3 closed M1 southbound from J18 to Watford Gap services. This includes a lane 1 closure on the M45 link

22-23 April 2024

Lanes 1/2/3 closed M1 southbound J18 to Watford Gap services. This includes a lane 1 closure on the M45 link

15-16 April 2024

Lanes 1/2/3 closed M1 southbound from J19 to J17

20 April 2024

Lanes 1/2/3 closed M1 southbound from J19 to J17

8 April 2024

Lanes 1/2/3 closed M1 southbound from J16 to Watford Gap services

22 April 2024

Lanes 1/2/3 closed M1 southbound from J16 to Watford Gap services

9-10 April 2024

Lanes 1/2/3 closed M1 southbound from J19 to Watford Gap services

16-19 April 2024

Lanes 1/2/3 closed M1 southbound from J19 to Watford Gap services

19 April 2024

Lanes 1 and 2 closed M1 southbound from J19 to J18. This includes a lane 1 closure on the M45 link

22-26 April 2024

Lanes 1 and 2 closed M1 southbound from J19 to J18. This includes a lane 1 closure on the M45 link

22 April 2024

Lanes 1/2/3 closed M1 northbound from Watford Gap services to J16

24-26 April 2024

Lanes 1/2/3 M1 northbound from Watford Gap services to J16

24-26 April 2024

Lanes 1/2/3 closed M1 northbound from J17 to J19

23-26 April 2024

Lanes 1/2/3 M1 southbound from J16 to Watford Gap services

We’re sorry for the disruption this work may cause to your journey and we encourage drivers to plan ahead and allow extra time when travelling. All closures are subject to change at short notice due to unforeseen circumstances or poor weather conditions. Please check this webpage and our X (formerly Twitter) account (@HighwaysEMIDS) before travelling for the latest information.

Details of all full closures on England’s motorways and major A roads over the next week can be found at: www.nationalhighways.co.uk/travel-updates/road-closure-report.

We're building 10 additional emergency areas between junctions 4a and 6 of the M5 with construction work starting from Monday 22 April 2024. Our work is scheduled to be complete by spring 2025.

This week, we’ll be working overnight on temporary speed camera installation between M5 junctions 4a and 6, in advance of the start of main works later this month.

The following closures will be in place overnight from 8pm until 6am:

Date of closure

Details of closure

Diversion route

Monday 8 April

M5 J6 to J5 northbound – lane 1, 2 and 3 closure

No diversion required as lane closures only

M5 J4a to J5 southbound – lane 1, 2 and 3 closure

Tuesday 9 April

M5 J6 to J5 northbound – lane 1, 2 and 3 closure

Wednesday 10, Thursday 11 and Friday 12 April

M5 J6 to J5 northbound – lane 1, 2 and 3 closure

M5 J4a to J5 southbound – lane 1, 2 and 3  closure

Next week, we’ll be working overnight on site surveys, excavating trial holes for services identification and collecting soil samples for classification between M5 junctions 4a and 6.

The following closures will be in place overnight from 8pm until 6am:

Date of closure

Details of closure

Diversion route

Monday 15 and Tuesday 16 April

M5 J6 to J5 northbound – lane 1, 2 and 3 closure

No diversion required as lane closure only

Wednesday 17 April

M5 J4a to J5 southbound – lane 1 closure

Thursday 18 and Friday 19 April

M5 J4a to J5 southbound – lane 1, 2 and 3 closure

We’re sorry for the disruption this work may cause to your journey and we encourage drivers to plan ahead and allow extra time when travelling. All closures are subject to change at short notice due to unforeseen circumstances or poor weather conditions. Please check this webpage and our X (formerly Twitter) account (@HighwaysWMIDS) before travelling for the latest information.

Details of all full closures on England’s motorways and major A roads over the next week can be found at: www.nationalhighways.co.uk/travel-updates/road-closure-report.

Overview

Emergency areas provide a place to stop in an emergency if drivers can't exit the motorway or stop at a motorway service area.

They are marked by blue signs featuring an orange SOS telephone symbol. Each is coloured orange and is around the same length as a football pitch. They’re positioned at regular intervals, providing somewhere safe to stop and have phones linked directly to our control rooms.

Read our advice about driving on motorways, including what to do in an emergency.

Our investment in new emergency areas is designed to help road users feel safe and be even safer on our roads. Other improvements we're making include work on:

  • technology, such as stopped vehicle detection
  • better and more signs
  • more information about smart motorways online and in an updated Highway Code

Through all the work we're doing, we’re determined to:

  • further reduce the number of casualties on our high-speed road network
  • improve public confidence in our smart motorways
  • continue to build and operate one of the safest and best performing road networks in the world 

Documents

Traffic information

Information about scheduled roadworks and events on our motorways and major roads.

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