Local MP Grant Shapps has brought together Oliver Dowden CBE MP, Charles Walker OBE MP, Sir Oliver Heald QC MP, and the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership to campaign for the conversion of junctions of the A1 (M) motorway into a Smart Motorway. This would harness technology and new operations to increase capacity on the motorway, by using variable mandatory speed limits, and using the hard shoulder as a temporary or permanent running lane.

Grant said: “I will be writing to Highways England and the Department for Transport with a number of Hertfordshire MPs to raise the issue of motorway capacity once again. Although the current plan to convert junctions 6-8 of the A1 (M) into a ‘Smart Motorway’ should help, we are very concerned about the time-scale potentially slipping, thereby causing further delays.

“From both an economic and social point of view, the A1 (M) is of vital concern. The significant daily tailbacks cause enormous disruption to businesses in Welwyn Hatfield, Stevenage and beyond. This is a motorway restriction which has existed for far too long, and it has now been 20 years since the Blair government cancelled the motorway widening in 1997.”

Charles Walker OBE MP said: “It is vital that we invest in Hertfordshire’s infrastructure to ensure that we can continue to grow its economy and provide first-class job and career opportunities.”

Oliver Dowden CBE MP said: “‘I am pleased that Highways England are upgrading sections of the A1(M) to make it a smart motorway.

“But much more needs to be done to ensure that our road and highways infrastructure keeps pace with the increasing demands being placed on them, something I know is a serious issue here in Hertsmere. As we continue to build more houses, people must have the roads to go with them.

“This is something on which I continue to campaign and I now urge Highways England to look at all options to further enhance our local road network here in Hertfordshire.”

Tina Barnard, Chair of Hertfordshire LEP’s Strategic Infrastructure Board, said: “Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership also recognises the urgent need for major improvements to be made to relieve congestion on the stretch of the motorway, between junctions 6-8 of the A1 (M).

“Unlocking this bottleneck will significantly improve life for commuters and encourage future economic growth in the county. As part of the A1 (M) consortium we have pressed hard for increased capacity on this key strategic route and we will continue to monitor progress.”