West Lothian Councillor fears opening hard shoulder on M8 could lead to road traffic accidents

Fears have been voiced that plans to open the hard shoulder on the M8 and M9 as bus lanes could lead to road accidents. Councillor Carl John rejected the proposals put to West Lothian Council's Executive by Transport Scotland. The agency has proposed opening sections of the hard shoulder on both motorways to buses to speed up public transport.

This would benefit buses using the M8 and M9 from Livingston and Linlithgow. The system - know  as Actively Managed Hard Shoulders (AMHS)- has already been introduced  on some parts of the M9, including near Winchburgh. The Scottish scheme restricts use of the hard shoulder to buses able to carry more than 23 passengers.

Similar schemes in England open up the hard shoulder to all traffic,  with sometimes fatal consequences. Councillor Carl John was an eyewitness to an accident on the M6 near Birmingham last year in which three members of a family were killed when a lorry struck their broken down car on the hard shoulder. He told the meeting: "Anyone who had witnessed what I did that day would see this as an open door to an accident."

He said the proposals for AMHS were too complicated. Council officers are broadly in favour of the proposals. In a report to committee, roads manager, Graeme Malcolm, said: "Transport Scotland's proposal to introduce actively managed hard shoulder and speed limit on the M8 and M9 trunk roads (Newbridge to Hermiston Gait) should be supported on the basis that it will improve bus priority infrastructure on the motorway network into West Edinburgh."

Councillor Chris Horne wondered if it was a way of extending capacity of the network "on the cheap" and asked Mr Malcolm what safety measures were built in. Mr Malcolm said extra overhead gantry signage would be installed along with CCTV and emergency response lay-bys and refuge areas where breakdowns could be dealt with. He added that Transport Scotland were pleased with the way the scheme was working where it had already been introduced.

"There are no significant safety issues or concerns," he added.

Councillor Horne said he would like  the project to be monitored and the council kept informed of how it was working in regular reports from Transport Scotland.

Council leader, Lawrence Fitzpatrick, told the meeting: "I think we can agree that the comments from Councillor John and Councillor Horne should be added to our response."

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