HC Deb 04 December 2002 vol 395 cc798-9W
Mr. Greg Knight

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for what reason the northbound carriageway of the Ml motorway near junction 34 has been closed; what steps have been taken to reduce traffic congestion and delays; and when all three lanes on both north and southbound carriageways in this area will be fully operational. [84609]

Mr. Spellar

I have asked the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency, Tim Matthews, to write to the right hon. Member.

Letter from Tim Matthews to Mr. Greg Knight, dated 4 December 2002:

I have been asked by the Minister for Transport, John Spellar, to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the closure of the northbound carriageway of the M1 motorway at junction 34.

The Highways Agency is currently carrying out major strengthening of the Tinsley Viaduct which carries the Ml Motorway across the Don Valley. The works cannot be completed without some limited carriageway closures. These take place overnight when traffic levels are low. The northbound carriageway was closed for each night between Monday 18 and Saturday 23 November. Alternative routes had been agreed with local authorities and were signed and publicised in advance. The contractor has been carrying out welding work overnight and this has necessitated closures. Following work on the night of Saturday 23 November, cracking developed in the structure which, if untreated, would have deteriorated. Work could only be carried out with a complete closure of the road. No work could be undertaken on Sunday night because fog made it impossible to install traffic management safely. On Monday the position, which had been kept under review, began to deteriorate further. Taking into account the fact that delay would prolong the closure the decision was taken to close the carriageway that afternoon. This was done and the carriageway remained closed from 4 pm on Monday to 6.45 am on Wednesday. It closed again briefly later that night to allow clearance of the remaining traffic management. In taking the decision the Agency took into account the severe congestion that the closure could cause in the area. Local authorities and the Police were informed of the closure as soon as the decision was taken. They assisted with traffic management using the Urban Traffic Control systems to adjust timings on traffic signals in the area. Local and long distance diversion routes were put in place and the closure was publicised through press, radio and the Agency's own website and information line. The information was updated throughout the time the carriageway was closed. Further works on the northbound carriageway will involve a series of closures starting mid February as part of the strengthening works. The Viaduct is expected to re-open fully to three running lanes plus hardshoulder in each direction following completion of the strengthening contract in early 2005. If you would like any further information on the works being carried out to the viaduct please contact Simon Diggle, the Project Manager for the works, on 0113 283 5309 or email simon.diggle@highways.gsi.gov.uk