‘No plans’ for smart M5 motorway in Somerset

No plans for smart M5 motorway

Highways England says it has “no current plans” to turn the M5 into a smart motorway in Somerset.

The section between Junction 25 at Taunton and Junction 15 for the M4 motorway is a notorious traffic blackspot, especially during the summer. 

A smart motorway is a technology-enabled section of motorway that uses traffic management methods to control the flow of traffic and reduce congestion.

In some cases, the hard shoulder is used as a ‘live’ running lane to increase capacity, along with variable speed restrictions to maintain a smooth flow of traffic.

Previously, Sedgemoor District Council said it would phase in smart technology to cut congestion and increase capacity at peak times.

‘Address existing and future congestion’

Traffic on M5 motorway

The Sedgemoor Transport Strategy document outlined the council’s plans for the road network until the year 2050, including “improvements to address existing and future congestion and resilience issues along the M5 motorway”.

“The Council will also promote smart motorways proposals on the M5 which would use digital technology to better monitor traffic levels and implement hard shoulder running, variable speed limits, or even close lanes remotely via gantry signage if accidents have occurred.”

“The District will be seeking full implementation of smart motorway infrastructure along the M5 corridor,” it said.

But Highways England has ruled it out, which could be bad news for local residents and the thousands of holidaymakers who use the M5 every summer.

‘No current plans’

M5 motorway sign

Rebecca Edmond, head of south west planning and development for Highways England, said: “There are no current plans to introduce a smart motorway to the Sedgemoor section of the M5.

“We are, though, finalising designs to bring more technological benefits to drivers between Junction 23 (Bridgwater) and Junction 25 (Taunton), a part of the motorway which currently suffers from delays.”

Highways England is installing a driver information and queue protection scheme between Junctions 17 and 18, and plans to introduce a similar scheme between Junctions 23 and 25 later this year.

“The scheme will give our South West Regional Operations Centre greater visibility of this area of the network,” added Edmond, “and it means we’ll be able to better detect incidents and then let drivers know so they can make informed choices about their journeys.”

Last week, Highways England announced that it will remove 480 miles of roadworks over the August bank holiday weekend.

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