Work to get under way on safety upgrade at busy motorway interchange
01 Feb 2023
National Highways will soon start work on an important safety upgrade of the central barrier at the busy M40/M42 interchange near Birmingham.
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Work to upgrade 7.5 miles of steel safety barrier to a concrete one between the M42 junction 3 and junction 3a, and M42 junction 3a to M40 junction 16 will begin on Monday (6 February).
Concrete safety barriers are even stronger than metal ones and significantly reduce the risk of vehicles crossing over from one carriageway to another.
They are also virtually maintenance free and will last twice as long as normal metal barriers, with far less need for closures for routine repairs.
National Highways Regional Sponsor, Paul Unwin, said:
“Concrete barriers improve safety by reducing the risk of vehicles crossing over into the other carriageway, which can also cause lengthy traffic delays. This is an important safety upgrade and is a huge benefit to road users.”
During the works, three slightly narrower lanes will remain open to traffic and also creating a safe space for working around the central reservation. There will be a reduced speed limit of 50mph, CCTV coverage and a free recovery service.
Caption: Concrete barriers like this are to be installed on the M40/M42 interchange to further improve safety
To help ensure the safety of workers and motorists, there will be some full carriageway closures required which will take place at night, between 9pm and 6am, when traffic numbers are lower. Closures will take place as follows:
- 6 to 13 February – M40 junction 15 northbound to M42 junction 3a
- 14 to 23 February – M40 northbound link and M42 junction 3a to junction 2 southbound
- 24 February and 27 February to 3 March – M42 junction 2 to 3a northbound
- 6 to 17 March – M42 southbound junction 3a to M40 junction 15
Details of any further closures required will be posted on the scheme webpage when confirmed.
The closures will take place while the traffic management is installed with the three narrow lanes up and running and the barrier replacement getting under way early March. Work is due to be completed next spring.
The upgrade is part of National Highways’ commitment to help drivers feel safe and be safer when using the roads network.
On 12 January 2022, the Government’s response to the Transport Committee’s inquiry into the rollout and the safety of smart motorways was published. It included a commitment to pause the roll-out of new All Lane Running motorways yet to start construction until five years of safety and economic data is available on the sections opened before 2020.
The M40/M42 interchange is one of those schemes being paused. The concrete barrier work will help ensure all existing motorways without a permanent hard shoulder are made as safe as they can possibly be.
Update - April 2023
On 15 April 2023 the Government announced that plans for new smart motorways would be cancelled in recognition of the lack of public confidence felt by drivers and cost pressures. This follows an announcement in January 2022 to pause the rollout of new all lane running smart motorways, yet to start construction.
The Government and National Highways continue to invest £900 million in further safety improvements on existing smart motorways, and to give motorists clear advice when using existing smart motorways.
The M40/M42 interchange is one of those schemes being cancelled. The concrete barrier work will help ensure all existing motorways without a permanent hard shoulder are made as safe as they can possibly be.