Costs delay M1 “smart motorway” work

WORK to upgrade part of the M1 to a “smart motorway” has been put on hold after being declared not to be “deliverable and affordable”.
How the M1 motorway looked before the works startedHow the M1 motorway looked before the works started
How the M1 motorway looked before the works started

The scheme, which was due to eventually see the motorway between junction 32 at Thurcroft and junction 35A completely converted to the new motorway format, is one of 16 which must be reconsidered, the National Audit Office said.

The NAO said several problems had been created by the plans being drawn up in just 17 months in order to publish them before the May 2015 general election.

The equivalent rail planning takes about 30 months.

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: “The Department for Transport and Highways England need to agree a more realistic and affordable plan if they are to provide optimal value from the Road Investment Strategy.”

The spending watchdog also claimed the DfT chose projects without knowing enough about whether they represented the best use of taxpayers’ money.

The Five-year Road Investment Strategy featured 112 major projects to begin before 2020, including the stretch of the M1 through Rotherham.

The NAO said: “Decisive action needs to be taken before the updated delivery plan is published in the summer if shortcomings in the current strategy are not to be carried over into future road investment periods.”

Highways England chief executive Jim O'Sullivan said he was confident the organisation would complete the work without overspending, and a “delivery plan” would be published in June.

The DfT said it would consider the findings of the report.