M1 Junctions 39-42: Smart Motorway

Project status:   Current

Start date:   November 2013
End date:  December 2015

Type:   Major Scheme
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Major Scheme

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

Cost:  £120 million*


What to do if you break down on a smart motorway

Find out more about what to do if you break down on a smart motorway and other useful information.

Opening of the new smart motorway on M1 West Yorkshire

Highways England has opened a new section of smart motorway between junctions 39 to 42. From this point onwards, smart motorways technology will be in operation on the M1 north and southbound between junctions 39 and 42.

This means there will be:

  • additional lane capacity for traffic to help reduce congestion
  • more technology on the road to keep road users informed and to manage any incidents
  • more reliable journeys for road users

We have delivered this £120 million project on behalf of the government along 11 kilometres of the M1. This new section of smart motorway will help to relieve congestion and smooth the flow of the traffic, improving safety and journey times for road users. These benefits will also support economic development in the region.

Smart motorway technology has been installed which will display variable speed limits on overhead signs. These speed limits will be set to smooth the flow of traffic during times of congestion, or when there are incidents which need to be managed. Road users will also have more information to help them plan their journeys via electronic information signs, advising them of road conditions and lane closures.

We have also transformed the hard shoulder into a permanent fourth lane for traffic, to provide extra capacity and to keep traffic moving. Emergency Refuge Areas (ERA), with Emergency Roadside Telephones (ERT) will also be available for use.

We have produced a new leaflet for more information on how smart motorways work.

You can also read our press release on the opening of the new smart motorway.

Future improvement work

Contractors will return to the site over the next few months to carry out some additional maintenance work, such as bridge waterproofing and resurfacing of the carriageway. This will mean there could be overnight and weekend closures while this work takes place.

During the smart motorway improvement works on the M1 junctions 39 to 42, we had a number of overnight road closures, which meant that we were diverting traffic along the A650. Once the aforementioned bridge resurfacing works are due to be completed end of March 2016, this traffic diversion will no longer be in place for the scheme, and all vehicles will be able to use the M1.
Drivers are reminded that a weight restriction will be in operation along the A650 between the M1 junction 41 and M62 junction 28, once these works are completed.

M1 Junction 39 to 42 smart motorway

For more information about the scheme please visit the about page.

Public information construction exhibition

We held a public information construction exhibition on the 8th and 9th November. The scheme boards displayed are availabe to view on the Publications page.

What is happening?

We are improving the M1 by making it a smart motorway between junctions 39 and 42. Smart motorways help relieve congestion by using technology to vary speed limits. They also allow the hard shoulder to be fully converted to a running lane to create additional capacity. 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?

The smart motorway scheme is being carried out between junction 39 and 42 of the M1.

Why is this happening and what will it cost?

The M1 motorway is a strategic route for local, regional and international traffic, and plays a major role as a national artery providing a direct motorway route between the north and the south. It is also a major inter-urban regional route connecting two major conurbations and providing access to two important international gateways.

It carries in excess of 113,000 vehicles a day, of which 25% are HGVs. Congestion is already a serious problem and, based on national road traffic forecasts, the extent and severity of congestion is expected to significantly increase over the next 15 to 20 years.

* The estimated final outturn of £120 million was approved by the Secretary of State in October 2013 prior to the start of construction in October 2013.

How will the scheme be carried out?

A number of cameras, information signs and signals on gantries will be installed as part of the improvement scheme. As the scheme design progresses we will provide more information on the location of these features.

Using our knowledge of operating the M42 and M6 smart motorway schemes we have developed the smart motorway concept. The design of the M1 junctions 39 to 42 smart motorway will include the following features compared to previous smart motorway scheme.

  • fully converting the hard shoulder
  • fewer overhead gantries which span the whole motorway motorway, although the dedicated cameras required for opening and closing the hard shoulder are no longer required
  • increased space between emergency refuge areas

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 smart 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% and reduced emissions by up to 10% 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.

To contact the team directly you can email: area1​2​enquiries@​aone.​uk.​com

Details of scheduled roadworks are provided to help you plan your journey. Please note that works are weather- and resource- dependent and may need to be cancelled at short notice. This information is not updated in real time so please check Traffic England for current traffic conditions. Diversion timings are approximate and act as a guide only.

Will there be roadworks?

Yes, roadworks will be required to carry out the works safely.

Forthcoming closures are listed below. Works are weather dependant and may have to be cancelled at short notice. Diversion timings are approximate and act as a guideline only. This information is not updated in real time; check Traffic England for current traffic conditions.

How will you manage traffic?

Traffic is generally managed by overhead gantries and roadside signs. Narrow lanes and cones may be used whilst bridge waterproofing and resurfacing is carried out. Overnight and weekend closures may be used when lane closures are not sufficient for works to be completed safely.

Will there be diversions?

Clearly signed diversions will be in place.

  • northbound traffic leaving 39 for junction 40 will be diverted via the A636, A6186, A61 and A638
  • northbound traffic leaving 40 for junction 41 will be diverted via the A638, B6128 and A650
  • soutbound traffic leaving at 41 for junction 40 will be diverted via the A650, B6128 and A638
  • southbound traffic leaving at 40 for junction 39 will  be diverted via the A638, A61, A16186 and A636
  • northbound traffic leaving at 41 for junction 42 should follow A650 to M62 and join at junction 28, leave at junction 29 to rejoin M1 at junction 42
  • southbound traffic leaving at 42 for junction 41 should join the M62 at junction 29, leave at 28 join the A650 to rejoin the M1 at junction 41

Download diversion route map (453KB PDF)

Temporary diversion during the closure of M1 north and southbound (121KB PDF)

Temporary diversions during the closure of northbound carriageway (118KB PDF)

Business Case

M1 J39 to J42 Managed Motorway - Business Case
Business Case - Information correct as at December 2010


M1 Junction 39 to 42 Smart Motorways opening
Smart Motorways opening leaflet - February 2016
M1 J39 to J42 Smart Motorway - Public Exhibition Boards
Public exhibition material for the M1 J39 to J42 Smart Motorway scheme.
M1 J39 to J42 Managed Motorway - Public Exhibition Poster
M1 J39 to J42 Managed Motorway - Public Exhibition Poster - January 2013


M1 J39 to 42 - Notice of Determination
Environmental Impact Assessment Notice of Determination for the M1 J39 to 42 Managed Motorway Scheme.


Statutory instrument consultation
M1 - junctions 39 to 42 statutory instrument
M1 J39 to J42 Managed Motorway - Environmental Assessment Report - July 2013
Environmental Assessment Report (EAR) for the M1 J39 to J42 Managed Motorway Scheme.