Updated on 15/02/2019 – Highways England announce delayed start dates for Galliford Try and Costain contracts
Updated on 05/12/18 – Highways England Announce Plans for Single Alliance Arrangement for SMART Motorways
With the announcement by Highways England of a single alliance approach to the remaining SMART motorway projects, a change to the previous contractor arrangements is inevitable. The new arrangement will involve just three contractors and key members from design and production for the entirety of the works. This is a stark contrast to the eight contractors currently involved in SMART motorway projects across the UK.
Highways England announced plans in 2013 for a SMART motorway system to be implemented across parts of the UK. Multiple sections of UK motorways have begun the upgrade and many more are planned to start in the new year.
SMART motorways have been in operation on UK roads since 2006. However the technology used has undergone a major upgrade in recent years. The latest upgrade to the SMART motorway design hopes to provide real time traffic updates. This will allow variables such as speed, the use of the hard-shoulder and lane closures to be modified dependent on the conditions.
The demand for SMART motorways is increasing and as a result are providing opportunities for construction companies across the UK.
Developments earlier this year saw two construction contractors awarded separate motorway projects in the North West.
Galliford Try Win M56 SMART
Galliford Try were awarded the £67m contract to upgrade junctions 6-8 on the M56. Work is due to start in 2019. This includes improvements to pavements, barriers and drainage as well as the installation of gantries and emergency refuge areas across the stretch of motorway. This deal comes after Galliford Try recently completed similar projects along the M1 in Northamptonshire and the North East.
Costain win M6 SMART Motorway Contract
Costain have also been awarded the £150m design and build contract for junctions 21a-26 of the M6. Work is due to start this year. The 10 mile stretch of road between Woolston and Orrell will aim to increase capacity and improve journey reliability for motorists. Director of Costain Andrew Wylie, has said he hopes the SMART motorway will “improve the driver experience” with the application of technology based solutions.
The aim is to increase capacity and improve journey reliability
Highways England forecast traffic on motorways to grow by 31% before 2041. Therefore investment into these schemes is vital to ensure the quality and convenience of UK motorways. It is likely that further contracts will be awarded later this year to any outstanding projects.
RAC Express Concerns Over Road Safety
The projects suggest good news for construction opportunities. However, automotive services company RAC have expressed concern over the logistics of the new motorway designs. The company expressed concern over the implications of removing the hard shoulder for those requiring roadside assistance. This concern led to a collaboration between RAC and Highways England to increase the number of Emergency Rest Areas (ERAs) and increase driver awareness of their intended use to alleviate concern over the removal of hard shoulders.
It seems the implementation of the SMART motorways may create tension amongst road users, however will provide much needed investment into the construction industry.