The M6 J13-15 smart motorway scheme falls within the busy stretch of the M6 between Stafford and Stoke. This is a crucial part of the Strategic Road Network and an important element of Highways England’s plan to create a “smart spine” connecting London and the North West.
The project has installed a unique contraflow system – a first for smart motorways. Thanks to the contraflow, there is considerably more room in the verge for workers to undertake construction activities including a three-metre deflection safety zone, releasing several safety benefits to both the travelling public and road workers.
An average smart motorway scheme, using continuous narrow lanes, will install over two hundred full closures throughout its duration, a statistic which is much less using contraflow. As a result, there will be a reduction in the need for overnight closures and use the A449 diversion route that runs directly though Stafford. The route is politically sensitive affecting residents and adding time to customers’ journeys.
Furthermore, contraflow allows for the working carriageway to be isolated during the night by transferring all traffic onto the contraflow lane. This means that there will be less need for night resources to install traffic management, considerably reducing the overall risk on the network.
In addition, the project has teamed up with Staffordshire County Council and funded three electronic speed signs, installed on diversion routes to slow down traffic in sensitive areas. The project has also produced a traffic management bulletin combining the closures of all three current M6 smart motorway projects, ensuring that customers can plan their journeys better.