Plans for new smart motorways are to be cancelled, the Prime Minister has announced.
New smart motorways – including the 11 already paused from the second Road Investment Strategy (2020 to 2025) and the three earmarked for construction during the third Road Investment Strategy (2025 to 2030) – will be removed from government road-building plans.
It comes amid ‘financial pressures’ and in recognition of the current lack of public confidence felt by drivers.
Initial estimations suggest constructing future smart motorway schemes would have cost more than £1 billion and cancelling these schemes will allow more time to track public confidence in smart motorways over a longer period.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “All drivers deserve to have confidence in the roads they use to get around the country.
“That’s why last year I pledged to stop the building of all new smart motorways, and today I’m making good on that promise.”
Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “We want the public to know that this government is listening to their concerns.
“Today’s announcement means no new smart motorways will be built, recognising the lack of public confidence felt by drivers and the cost pressures due to inflation.”
Independent road safety campaigner, Meera Naran, whose 8-year-old son Dev, died in a motorway collision on the M6 in 2018, said: “Since successfully campaigning for the 18-point action plan, £900 million commitment and the pause in the roll out in January 2022, there has been a lot of joined up thinking in mutually coming to this decision.
“I thank ministers and executives for inviting me to work alongside them in memory of Dev, towards a mutual goal and for their commitment over the years.”
While no new stretches of road will be converted into smart motorways, the M56 J6-8 and M6 J21a-26 will be completed given they are already over three quarters constructed.
RAC road safety spokesman Simon Williams said: “This is a watershed announcement and a victory for everyone who has campaigned against these motorways that, by their design, put drivers in more danger should they be unlucky enough to break down on one.
“Our research shows all lane running smart motorways are deeply unpopular with drivers so we’re pleased the government has finally arrived at the same conclusion.
“It’s now vitally important that plans are made for making the hundreds of existing miles of these types of motorway as safe as possible.
“The possibility of converting all lane running stretches to the ‘dynamic hard shoulder’ configuration, where the hard shoulder is open and closed depending on the levels of traffic, could be one option the government considers.”