300m M1 widening project completed

A £300 million scheme to widen of one of the country's busiest stretches of motorway has been completed.

A 10-mile section of the M1, from junction 6a in Hertfordshire to junction 10 south of Luton in Bedfordshire, has been widened to four lanes.

The work has taken just under three years and its completion will be good news for the 160,000 drivers who use the stretch of road daily.

To accommodate the new layout, seven lanes were demolished and re-built, and 10 were widened.

A total of 62 gantries and 6,000 cats' eyes have been installed, more than 60,000 trees and 120,000 shrubs have been planted, and a new badger set has been created and bat boxes put up.

To mark the completion, transport secretary Geoff Hoon unveiled a plaque by the motorway, which was placed alongside an original plaque erected in 1959 when that stretch of the M1 opened.

Future plans to ease congestion include further widening schemes as well as the introduction of what is known as hard-shoulder running, with vehicles using the hard shoulder during peak times.

The RAC Foundation has described the hard-shoulder plans as "short-term and inadequate".

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