The M1 had more roadworks in the last 5 years than any other motorway

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The motorways with the most delays: The M1 had more roadworks causing tailbacks in the last five years than any other major route in England

  • The M1 is just 193 miles long but endured 112,000 roadworks in the last 5 years
  • That’s 35,000 more than the M6, which is 40 miles longer
  • Many of the roadworks have been in place to convert routes to smart motorways 

The M1 has endured more roadworks and resultant traffic jams than any other major motorway in England in the last five years, new figures have revealed.  

The 193-mile route connecting Leeds with London is not the nation’s longest route or busiest, though has been undergoing renovations to convert big parts of it into ‘smart’ motorway. 

Highways England data revealed that it racked-up 35,000 more instances of repairs, resurfacing, speed restrictions and hard shoulder closures than the next most impacted trunk road in the country, the M6.

Road restoration: New Highways England data has revealed which motorways have had the most roadworks in the last 5 years

Road restoration: New Highways England data has revealed which motorways have had the most roadworks in the last 5 years

With the smart motorways network set to double in size by 2025 – despite ongoing safety concerns – to a total of 788 miles, motorists are being warned to expect ongoing spells of traffic-jam misery.

It means drivers are going to endure further delayed journeys in the next five years as workmen go about installing overhead gantries, speed cameras and emergency refuge areas to convert motorways into ‘smart’ roads, as well as remove their hard shoulders. 

Motorway roadwork stats were revealed to Select Car Leasing, which had sent a freedom of information request to Highways England to disclose maintenance formation.

Motorways in England that have had the most roadworks in 5 years 

1. M1 (193 miles long) – 112,098 roadworks

2. M6 (232 miles long) – 76,474 roadworks

3. M62 (107 miles long) – 37,071 roadworks

4. M5 (163 miles long) – 58,239 roadworks

5. M4 (189 miles long) – 42,399 roadworks

6. M40 (89 miles long) – 6,333 roadworks

7. M25 (117 miles long) – 4,994 roadworks

Source: Highways England data provided to Select Car Leasing 

The M1 topped the list with the most roadworks since the start of 2015. Many of them are believed to have been put in place to convert big parts of it into smart motorway

The M1 topped the list with the most roadworks since the start of 2015. Many of them are believed to have been put in place to convert big parts of it into smart motorway

It found that the M1 had 112,098 separate road works carried out from the start of 2015 to September 2019.

The M6, which is 40 miles shorter, had 76,474.  

Roadworks per mile on England’s motorways in the last five years

1. M1 – 580 roadworks per mile

2. M6 – 530 roadworks per mile

3. M5 – 357 roadworks per mile

4. M62 – 346 roadworks per mile

5. M4 – 224 roadworks per mile

6. M40 – 71 roadworks per mile

7. M25 – 42 roadworks per mile

Source: Highways England data provided to Select Car Leasing 

Mark Tongue, director of the vehicle leasing firm, said the figures tallied with other surveys it had conducted where it had found the M1 to be the ‘most frustrating highway for UK motorists when it comes to roadworks, delays, disruptions and diversions’. 

While almost 112,098 roadworks over five years sounds a staggering amount, much of this is down to how Highways England defines them.

The government agency refers to everything from temporary lane closures, bridge repairs, barrier re-tensioning, carriageway sweeping, hard shoulder closures, pothole repairs, speed restrictions and even horticulture works as ‘roadworks’.

Surprisingly, the M25 came bottom of the list with just 4,994 roadworks in the last five years – meaning the M1 had twenty times as many.

Not that this makes the London Orbital route any less susceptible to tailbacks.

‘You look at the stats for the M25 and you might assume that fewer roadworks results in fewer disruptions and therefore a more pleasant driving experience compared with other motorways of a comparable distance,’ Tongue said.

‘But on the flip side it might also mean that the overall condition of the M25 is suffering much more than other motorways because it’s not being maintained.’ 

Surprisingly, the M25 came bottom of the list with just 4,994 roadworks in the last five years

Surprisingly, the M25 came bottom of the list with just 4,994 roadworks in the last five years

Highways Agency defines temporary lane closures, bridge repairs, barrier re-tensioning, carriageway sweeping, hard shoulder closures, pothole repairs and more as roadworks

Highways Agency defines temporary lane closures, bridge repairs, barrier re-tensioning, carriageway sweeping, hard shoulder closures, pothole repairs and more as roadworks

In recent weeks Woking MP Jonathan Lord backed a petition calling on Highways England to resurface a section of the M25 described by one resident as ‘the worst bit of motorway I have ever driven on’.

The offending stretch is between Junction 10, at Wisley, and Junction 11, at Chertsey, with a nearby residents group saying they can no longer tolerate the terrible sound it causes.

A Highways England spokesman responded saying: ‘We are aware of concerns which have recently been raised regarding the noise generated by driving over the concrete section of the M25 between junctions 10 and 11.

‘Despite the noise on this section, the road is completely safe to drive on.

‘However, a scheme is underway to renew the joints between the concrete slabs which will reduce the noise and improve the driving experience on the M25 between junctions 8 and 11.’

The M25 might have endured the fewest roadworks, but drivers are still regularly caught in jams on the capital's orbital route

The M25 might have endured the fewest roadworks, but drivers are still regularly caught in jams on the capital’s orbital route

With the smart motorways network set to double in size by 2025, drivers are being warned to expect to see more signs like this

With the smart motorways network set to double in size by 2025, drivers are being warned to expect to see more signs like this

Each year national watchdog Transport Focus conducts a Strategic Roads User Survey to gather data on road user satisfaction on major and minor roads across the country.

Its latest figures for the previous financial year revealed how the M6 scored worst among the major motorways, with an overall satisfaction rating of just 72 out of 100, with delayed journey times a particular issue.

The M6 was closely followed by the M25, with a score of 76, and the M1, with a score of 77.

Meanwhile the highest ranking motorway in the satisfaction stakes is the M11 – which runs between London and Cambridge – and which had a score of 92.

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