More average speed cameras have been switched on along the M6 – enforcing limits of 50mph and 40mph.
Work costing up to £121 million is taking place along a 10-mile stretch of the M6 to open up the hard shoulder to traffic and impose variable speed limits at busy times.
Drivers are being told to go at 50mph between junctions 10a at Wolverhampton and 12 at Cannock and then down to 40mph up to junction 13 near Stafford. The cameras went live earlier this week but the Highways Agency only last night confirmed they had been switched on.
They are in use for a seven-and-a-half mile stretch from junctions 11a to 13, including at the point at which drivers have to slow down.
The move was branded a ‘cynical attempt’ to catch drivers out by a critic, although Highways Agency bosses say it is due to the ‘limited space’ they have near the Penkridge viaduct.
Peter Roberts from the Alliance of British Drivers said: “Average speed cameras are usually set at 50mph. That’s also the speed at which drivers are normally asked to travel along a section of motorway with roadworks in order to protect the workers.
“Changing the speed limit to 40mph for a small stretch appears on the surface to be a cynical attempt to catch unsuspecting drivers who are used to adhering to 50mph limits when work takes place on a motorway.”
It comes after more than 6,400 drivers were caught breaking a 50mph speed limit in four months on the M54 in Staffordshire, where work is taking place to provide a slip road to Wolverhampton’s i54 business park.
Highways Agency spokesman Chris Kirk said: “In order for the advance work to be carried out safely on the M6 between junctions 10a and 13, three narrow running lanes in each direction and a reduced speed limit of 50mph have been put in place on the motorway.
“Between junctions 12 and 13, the speed limit is 40mph due to the limited working space available. These measures are to ensure the safety of road users and road workers.
“Average speed cameras between junctions 11a and 13 and are now in operation. The temporary speed limit is mandatory.”
The speed limit will be in place for up to 18 months. Signs have been installed showing the 40mph speed limit and telling drivers average speed checks are being carried out.
The first phase of work includes clearing vegetation, upgrading drainage in verges, preparing the ground for the foundations for the overhead signs and excavation for the emergency refuge areas. Work on the section between junctions 10a and J11a will follow. The scheme is due to be complete in spring 2015.