The implementation of 'Smart Motorways' in Northern Ireland would make economic, environmental and safety sense, according to the FTA.
Responding to a study commissioned by the roads authority – TransportNI - which outlines the proposal of the M1 and M2 in and out of Belfast becoming ‘Smart Motorways,’ FTA stated that freight operators would see benefits in the introduction - economically, environmentally and would improve safety on the routes.
Smart Motorways are when hard shoulders on parts of motorways are turned into carriageways primarily in order to help ease traffic congestion.
Seamus Leheny – FTA policy and 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.”
The TransportNI study 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 freight movements in the Greater Belfast while also improving public transport.
Highways England have implemented similar schemes in Great Britain as far back as 2006 with the M42 scheme after 6 months reporting a 18% reduction in pollution from vehicle emissions and a 4% reduction in fuel use.