Drivers on a West Yorkshire stretch of the M1 are being told: Traffic jams should end.

They will benefit after the final phase of a new £120 million smart motorway went live on Monday February 1.

The Highways England scheme along a seven-mile stretch of motorway between junction 39 (Denby Dale) and junction 42 (Lofthouse Interchange) is the first all-lane running motorway in the North, where the hard shoulder has been permanently converted to an extra lane.

A similar scheme on the M62 near Huddersfield uses the hard shoulder only in times of heavy traffic.

The M1 smart motorway uses the latest technology to monitor traffic levels and variable speed limits on overhead electronic signs keep vehicles moving, improving the reliability of journeys. The first phase of the scheme was opened in December between junctions 39 and 41 (Morley).

The new "Smart" motorway opens on the M1

Highways England senior project manager Sandie Forte-Gill said:“We are delighted that the last stretch has opened today, which will tackle congestion and improve journey times for drivers.

“The hard shoulder has been permanently converted to an extra lane to significantly increase capacity, and we’ll keep vehicles moving using variable speed limits. We’ll use CCTV cameras to monitor the motorway so we can react quickly to incidents.

“We would like to thank drivers for their patience over the last two years while we carried out the work.”

Contractors for Highways England have worked 2,191,000 hours over the last two years to complete the scheme. The hard shoulder has been permanently converted into an extra lane, providing capacity for an average of 37,000 more vehicles each day.

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The smart motorway between junctions 39 and 42 includes:

• 7 miles of reinforced concrete barriers in the central reservation

• 7 miles of resurfacing the equivalent to 46 football pitches

• 10 overhead gantries

• 38 electronic signs

• 6,172 reflective road studs

The M62 between junction 25 (Brighouse) and junction 30 (Wakefield) was the first smart motorway in Yorkshire to go live, back in 2013. The hard shoulder is used as an extra lane during peak times whereas it has been permanently converted to an extra lane on the new M1 scheme.