Highways begin to reduce carbon

Published on Wednesday, 10 August 2011 11:28
Posted by Scott Buckler

Motorway lighting will be permanently switched off and removed on sections of the M1 motorway in Bedfordshire, reducing carbon emissions and light pollution, the Highways Agency has announced

Following a careful assessment, analysis shows that the lights can be switched off on stretches of the motorway between junctions 10 (Luton) and 13 (Milton Keynes) without affecting road user safety. The motorway junctions and their approaches, and a section of the M1 on either side of junction 11 (north Luton), will have lighting columns replaced and remain lit.

Currently work is underway to upgrade 15 miles of the M1 between junctions 10 and 13 to a managed motorway - reducing congestion and improving safety for road users by using variable speed limits and the opening the hard shoulder as additional lanes during peak periods.

Lighting along this stretch of the M1 is in a poor state of repair. Under revised standards for lighting on England's motorways and major A roads introduced in 2007, lights would not be installed here if the existing lighting was due to be replaced or if it was opening as a new motorway.

After careful analysis, the Highways Agency is confident that managed motorways can also be operated unlit, without affecting their proven congestion reducing and safety benefits.

Derek Turner, Director for the Highways Agency, said:

Since 2009 we've switched lighting off between the hours of midnight and 5am on 14 carefully selected stretches of motorways and evidence so far indicates that switching off the lights hasn't had an impact on safety. In March this year we also began permanently switching off motorway lights at three sites.

"This is not about wishing to remove all lights from the motorway network. It's about carefully identifying the locations where, under the revised guidelines, we would no longer install lighting. The money saved could then be used for other measures on the strategic road network where it would have a more significant safety benefit and potentially save more lives.

"We anticipate achieving an annual reduction in carbon emissions on this M1 stretch of about 810 tonnes. Local communities will also benefit from reduced light pollution of the night sky.”

From 17 August, the switch-off and removal of lighting columns will be carried out in phases until autumn 2012, alongside work to complete the managed motorways scheme. A low-light CCTV camera system, which is able to operate without motorway lighting, will be installed so Highways Agency staff can monitor the motorway 24-7.

The Highways Agency has spoken to emergency services and other stakeholders to make them aware.

The first phase of work on the M1 lighting columns will start at junction 11 to junction 10. It will be carried out at the same time as other works in the central reserve so as to reduce impact on road users.

Analysis carried out since the start of motorway lighting switch off suggests that driver behaviour does not appear to have been affected in terms of traffic volumes and speed.

Potential future sites for permanent switch off will continue to be assessed.


Source: Highways Agency

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