There are calls for an urgent safety review along a busy stretch of the M1 after figures revealed more than 100 car collisions have taken place there in recent months.
Works to replace the central reservation barrier between junction 19 at Catthorpe and junction 16 at Northampton are causing regular lengthy delays along one of the most congested 20 miles of road in the UK.
A 50 mph speed limit is in place through the roadworks to make the area safer for workers and three open lanes have been retained to aid the flow of traffic. But Northampton North MP Michael Ellis is calling on the Highways Agency to change the narrow section of road – which has no hard shoulder.
Figures released by the Highways Agency last week have revealed 94 road traffic collisions have occurred between junction 19 and 16 since the work started. A remarkable 283 cars have broken down and needed recovery in that section since the work started.
Mr Ellis said: “There has now been a very large number of serious collisions. It’s the narrowness that really concerns me. They have sought to reassure me that these are safe roadworks – but I am not convinced.”
Mr Ellis has written to the minister responsible for roads and to the Home Office– demanding to know figures for emergency service response times through that stretch of motorway.
But he said the travel delays experienced by commuters and businesses are having a detrimental an economic effect as well.
Mr Ellis believed many collisions are caused through the narrow sections of the motorway, and says the Highways Agency should look at trying to widen the available lanes.
The Highways Agency says safety through the roadworks is it’s top priority.
A spokesman for the organisation said: “On this section of the M1, the hard shoulder is being used as a temporary traffic lane, so that we can continue to provide three lanes for traffic in both directions.
“The lane nearest the central reservation, in both directions, is currently closed to traffic to provide a safe working area for our workforce while they construct the new, safer, concrete barrier.
“Safety is a top priority for the Highways Agency and we have a 24/7 free recovery service on schemes of this nature. The agency also continues to work in partnership with stakeholders to influence driver behaviour and promote safe driving through roadworks to road users.”