New lanes set to be added to two busy motorways will speed up journey times for Britain's drivers, ministers say.
Work is to be carried out on parts of the M1 and on a section of the M3, which the Government says will make journeys up to 10% faster for drivers.
The hard shoulder from junction 28 to 31 on the M1 in Derbyshire will be converted into a proper lane. Similar work will take place between junctions 32 and 35a in South Yorkshire and junctions 2 to 4a on the M3 in Surrey.
The roadworks are said to increase capacity by up to a third.
Work on the M1 is due to start in autumn 2015 while the M3 scheme is set to open in 2016.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has rejected plans to cap the speed limit on the motorway to 60mph between 7am and 7pm to safeguard against the impact of the new schemes on local air quality. He has instructed the Highways Agency to look into alternatives methods of reducing the impact.
RAC technical director David Bizley said: "This is good news all round. Motorists will be very pleased that the schemes to introduce additional capacity on sections of the M1 and M3 are to go ahead shortly.
"Following the landmark announcement in early January about proposals for a reduced speed limit of 60mph during substantial parts of the working day on these stretches of motorway in order to protect air quality in the area, we were concerned that other similar limits might be necessary as more 'smart motorway' hard shoulder-running schemes are introduced. It is therefore good news that the Secretary of State for Transport has listened to road users and recognised that a 60mph limit on these stretches of the M1 and M3 is the thin end of the wedge.
"The Government has heavily invested in the smart motorway concept so imposition of 60mph limits on these stretches at times when congestion is not at a level to justify a reduced speed limits would have undermined the benefits for road users. However, we also should be mindful that a solution that does not breach air quality limits and keeps traffic moving at 70mph may not be achievable. Let's hope for the sake of motorists and businesses alike that it is."
Copyright © Press Association 2014
Copyright Press Association 2014