Further to my conversations and correspondence with the Project Sponsor for the Highways England
Smart Motorways project regarding works to significantly reduce the length of the westbound off-slip I can report:
These will commence as planned this weekend and continue into next week. The purpose of these works is to start the installation process for communications cables and a new gantry. This will mean a reduction in the full length of the existing off slip to do so. However, due to the current reduced traffic flows, the 50mph speed limit in place plus additional signage which will be added Highways England is content with this as a temporary measure. Highways England will be closely monitoring the impact of this on the main carriageway and will put in place further measures if required.
Highways England will immediately start work on further traffic modelling including the effects of the improvements to junction 9 to predict the queue lengths once all the works being undertaken in the area have been completed. Once those figures are known an appropriate solution will be implemented. Work to look at alternative options is underway and this could well result in the slip road being retained at a longer length than currently proposed.
The full Smart Motorway scheme is due for completion next spring so the permanent solution should be known soon. I will advise when I know what that will look like.
I am grateful to the hundreds of residents who have contacted me via social media and by email to express their concerns.