Hello four lanes, goodbye M10

24th January 2009 – 2.24 pm

The M1 carriageway widening between junctions six and ten has been completed, opening on time at the end of last month. For over two-and-a-half years my daily commute to work was beset with ten miles of roadworks, reduced speed limits, and regular traffic jams, but now it has all cleared. Traffic is flowing freely at all hours, moving at the national speed limit. The extra capacity means that peak traffic doesn't even slow down much let alone come to a standstill, which is what prompted the expansion in the first place and shows the project to be a success. My commute is now bliss!

It is interesting to see how drivers cope with the new lane. It seems that people use the outside lane as a datum point, getting themselves as close to that lane as they dare to based on their self-assessed driving skill, rather than moving away from and back towards the inside lane as traffic dictates. This leads to drivers having to move to the outside lane to overtake others pootling along in the third lane when the inside two lanes are free. Hopefully everyone will get used to the extra lane with time. At the moment, it's almost like we've got a two-lane hard shoulder.

One consequence of the carriageway widening is that the M10 motorway no longer exists. This was part of the plan, as the M10 was pretty pathetic for a motorway. It had to be kept as one as it wasn't possible to join the A414 without travelling a couple of hundred yards on the M1, which prevented some drivers and vehicles form using that route because of motorway restrictions. The slip roads are now redesigned so that drivers don't need to join the motorway to get to what was the M10, staying on an A-road instead, and the M10 has been downgraded and incorporated in to the A414. Wikipedia has already been updated with the change to the M10, but I wonder how much confusion will occur before in-car GPS systems have had time to update.

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