M1 Junctions 32-35a: Smart Motorway

Project status:   Planned

Start date:   2013/14
End date:  TBC

Type:   Major Scheme
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Major Scheme

Part of our programme of improvements (value >10m)

Cost:  £94 million to £133 million


Public Consultation

The smart motorway proposals will add extra capacity to the M1 to allow for future traffic growth. However, this growth needs to be managed to ensure that additional traffic does not make air quality worse for local people living near the motorway as people’s health is affected by poor air quality. We have therefore consulted on introducing a maximum upper 60mph speed limit on the M1 between junction 28 and 35a, as this will allow us to manage traffic growth to a level that does not cause new problems within Air Quality Management Areas or make matters worse for local people. As a result of development of cleaner engines and the uptake of these into the fleet, in future years it is envisaged that the air quality will improve and at that stage we can remove the upper speed limit and revert to the national speed limit again.

The consultation ran from 6 January 2014 to 3 March 2014 and we would like to thank everyone who responded. We have received a large number of responses.

All the comments are being reviewed and a summary will be included in the report on the consultation which will be published in due course.

View the consultation

What is happening?

We propose to improve the M1 by making it a "smart motorway" (previously known as managed motorways) between junctions 32 and 35a. Smart motorways help relieve congestion by using technology to vary speed limits. They deliver these benefits at a significantly lower cost than conventional motorway widening and with less impact on the environment during construction.

When and where is this happening?

In the October 2010 Spending Review, the Chancellor announced that the M1 junctions 32-35a Smart Motorway scheme will be prepared for start of construction before 2015.

Start of construction on this scheme is subject to the completion of environmental assessment. Work on the assessment is ongoing, and once we have completed this work, we will be able to update on delivery timescales. Find out more about our Current Delivery Programme.

This managed motorway scheme will be carried out on the M1 between junctions 32-35a, located between Rotherham and Sheffield.

Why is this happening and what will it cost?

The M1 in South Yorkshire is an important route for regional and international traffic. The section between Junction 32 (M18) and Junction 35 (A616) carries more than 110,000 vehicles each day and suffers from congestion and delay at peak times.

The estimated cost of this scheme is in the range of £94m to £133m. (This includes the completed M1 Junctions 32-35a Concrete Barrier and Drainage Renewal Works)

How will the scheme be carried out?

Using our knowledge of operating the M42 and M6 smart motorway schemes we have developed the smart motorway concept. These developments include permanently converting the hard should to a running lane and developing the design so that schemes will have:

  • Fewer overhead gantries which span the whole motorway
  • Fewer signals over each lane and more verge mounting signing
  • Comprehensive CCTV cameras – although there will no longer be the need for the dedicated cameras and operating systems required for opening and closing the hard shoulder.

A number of cameras, information signs and signals on gantries will be installed as part of the improvement scheme. Signs and signals will still be used to inform drivers of conditions on the network and when variable speed limits are in place.

What are the benefits?

This project will relieve congestion and smooth the flow of the traffic, improving safety and journey times. These benefits will also support economic development in the region.

We already have evidence of the benefits that a smart motorway scheme can bring. The first managed motorway scheme opened to traffic on the M42 motorway in 2006. Recent analysis of the data gathered since opening has found that journey time reliability improved by 22 per cent and reduced emissions by up to 10 per cent due to traffic flowing more smoothly.

In addition, personal injury accidents have reduced by more than half (55.7%) since hard shoulder running was introduced. There was also an overall reduction in the severity of accidents with zero fatalities and fewer seriously injured.

How do I find out more information ?

More information will be posted on this project page as it becomes available. You can subscribe to be alerted when updates are made.

If you have any queries about this project you should contact the Highways Agency Information Line by emailing ha_​info@​highways.​gsi.​gov.​uk or calling 0300 123 5000.

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Business Case

M1 Junctions 32-35a Managed Motorway - Business Case
Business Case - Information correct as at December 2010


M1 junctions 28 to 35a: maximum mandatory speed limit consultation document
M1 junctions 28 to 35a: maximum mandatory speed limit consultation document
M1 Junctions 32-35a Managed Motorway - Information Leaflet
M1 Junctions 32-35a Managed Motorway - Information Leaflet - January 2013
M1 Junctions 32-35a Managed Motorway - Public Exhibition Poster
M1 Junctions 32-35a Managed Motorway - Public Exhibition Poster - January 2013



M1 Junctions 32-35a Managed Motorway - Public Exhibition Boards
This is a copy of the information that was on display at the public exhibition in January 2013.


M1 J32 to 35a Smart Motorway - Environmental Assessment Report
This Environmental Assessment Report (EAR) presents the findings of an environmental review and assessment of the potential environmental impacts and effects of the implementation of the proposed scheme on the M1 between J32 and 35a.