M-way closures 'all year round'Thu, 07 Aug 2014
SOME MAJOR MOTORWAYS did not operate at full capacity on any day last year, according to figures obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request.
There were some lane closures on all 365 days of 2013 on the M1, M4, M5, M6 and M25 as well as on the M60 in north west England and on the M54 in Shropshire and Staffordshire.
There were 358 days of lane closures on the M62 in northern England, 357 on the M40 which runs west from London to South Wales and 355 on the M27 in Hampshire.
The figures were obtained from the Highways Agency by motor insurer swiftcover.com and cover England's motorways.
According to the figures, the motorway on which drivers were least lumbered with lane closures last year was the 12-mile long M48 which connects England with South Wales.
There were only 40 days of lane closures on the M65 in Lancashire and only 55 days on another 12-mile long route, the M58 in north west England.
Other motorways where closures were confined to only a small number of days included the M61 near Manchester (90 days), the M69 in the Midlands (103 days) and the M53 in Cheshire (119 days)
Swiftcover said that in 2013, more than a third of motorways had lane closures for at least six months, while a quarter were fully open for 25 days or less.
The company added: "Motorists can expect an increase in motorway road works during 2014 as a result of the Government's £317 million 'pinch point' programme.
"This ambitious programme includes 123 extensive road works projects across the UK. However, less than a quarter of these have so far been completed."
Swiftcover.com product manager Roman Bryl said: "Some of our busiest road networks are never fully operational, and lane closures and diversions are a source of real frustration to drivers.
"Obviously it is important that motorways are kept in a good state of repair, but maintenance works can be very disruptive and stressful. Drivers should bear in mind that motorways may not actually be the quickest route for their journey, and plan ahead in order to avoid potential delays."
These were the number of days in 2013 on which there were lane closures on the worst-affected motorways:
A Highways Agency spokesman said: "The agency is delivering the biggest-ever programme of investment in our roads - £24 billion up to 2021.
"This will ensure we have a strategic road network that is fit for the future and can accommodate the millions of drivers who use our motorways every year.
"Work is planned very carefully to minimise disruption as far as possible, and to ensure the safety of road users and roadworkers.
"While we recognise people's journeys may be delayed as we carry out these vital improvements, ultimately this level of investment is good news for drivers, who will experience smoother and more reliable journeys in the longer term."
By Peter Woodman, Press Association