Highways England has confirmed that the Costain / Galliford Try joint venture will start work on a £373m project to upgrade the M1 in Northamptonshire to a smart motorway next month.

Under the programme, the 23-mile section of M1 between junctions 13 and 16 will be upgraded to an all-lane running smart motorway.

The section of M1 passes through Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire and links to the towns of Bedford, Milton Keynes and Northampton.

According to the scheme, a rigid concrete barrier between junction 13 and junction 16 will be installed to avert vehicle cross-overs from opposite sides of the carriageway.

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“This is vital work to improve journeys through a busy stretch of the M1 and once complete, will boost the local economy by increasing capacity and supporting future housing development.”

The programme also includes upgrading junctions 13 to 16 to four lanes running with no hard shoulder to increase capacity, as well as the installation of 38 new emergency areas and emergency roadside telephones.

Additional upgrades include hardening of the central reserve and the provision of wide gantries to support variable speed limits and travel information.

Highways England project sponsor Tabatha Bailey said: “This is vital work to improve journeys through a busy stretch of the M1 and once complete, will boost the local economy by increasing capacity and supporting future housing development.

“It will provide a continuous smart motorway from the M25 all the way to junction 19 at Catthorpe. This means that a key arterial route in England will offer increased capacity and more reliable journeys for the hundreds of thousands of people that use the M1 every day.”

Work on the M1 upgrade is expected to commence on 8 August with a projected completion date of March 2022. Once completed, the road will offer approximately £959m of benefits to the local area by boosting productivity and reducing congestion.