The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has welcomed a study commissioned by Northern Ireland roads authority, Transport NI, that outlines proposals for the M1 and M2 into Belfast becoming ‘smart motorways’.
Freight operators would see the benefits from an economic, environmental and safety persepctive if smart motorways were introduced, which turn parts of the hard shoulder into carriageways during congested periods.
Seamus Leheny, FTA policy & membership relations manager – Northern Ireland, said: “The major routes around Belfast suffer from recurrent traffic congestion at peak times. Using hard shoulders on the M1 and M2 in and out of Belfast, especially at peak hours – must be given serious consideration. Smart Motorway use increases capacity during rush-hours which would mean improved journey time reliability into Belfast City Centre and the Harbour, and would result in lower emissions and fewer accidents.”
TransportNI also looked at restricting use of the hard shoulders to buses, multiple occupancy vehicles and freight traffic, which would also be feasible and a significant benefit for improving goods movements in the Greater Belfast area while also improving public transport.
Highways England have implemented similar schemes as far back as 2006, with the M42 scheme reporting a 18% reduction in pollution from vehicle emissions and a 4% reduction in fuel use after six months in operation.