The government’s decision to scrap construction of all new smart motorways could leave a multi-billion pound black hole in contracts for roads. The i reported last week that the government has decided to shelve the smart motorways programmed for the foreseeable future due to cost and safety concerns. The news emerged in the wake of Chesterfield coroner’s court concluding that the deaths of Derek Jacobs and Charles Scripps on the M1 all lane running (ALR) smart motorway in March 2019 would not have happened if there had been a hard shoulder. The Department for Transport has yet to confirm the decision; prime minister Rish Sunak pledged to scrap smart motorways during the Conservative leadership race last year, and is expected to have the final say on the decision. Supporters of the use of smart motorways have said that such a move “was not evidence based”. Contractors have also voiced concerns over the impact on project pipelines if the axe does go ahead. Nonetheless, there was already uncertainty about the future of the projects. Following the findings of the Transport Select Committee’s inquiry into smart motorways, National Highways agreed in January 2022 that the programmed would be paused for five years to collect safety data from the already running ALR motorways, but that any smart motorways projects that were underway would be completed. In the 15 months since, smart motorway upgrades on the M1, M27, M4, M56 and M6 have all completed, while the M6 junctions 21a to 26 upgrade is nearing completion with gantries being installed this month. Conversion of the M1 junctions 10 to 13 from a dynamic hard shoulder (DHS) to an ALR motorway has also completed. However, four more motorway upgrades that had been expected to commence after the conclusion of the review period will now not go forward, leaving contractors in the lurch. Balfour Beatty had been awarded the £139M upgrade of M3 junctions 9 to 14 and a Bam Morgan Sindall JV was awarded the M40/M42 interchange upgrade, worth £133M to £312M. The £282.2M to £392.3M M62 upgrade and £200M to £400M M25 upgrade will also be cancelled, though contractors had not yet been announced for these works.