So it’s 5am and I turn off the M23 to head east on to the M25 towards the Dartford tunnel and, wait a minute, where have all the road works gone – the ones that have been there for the last year, and in which there has been an enforced speed limit of 50mph?
Disappeared, gone, mission accomplished. At last it means I don’t have to sit there at 52mph on the cruise control for the next 20 minutes, trying and sometimes failing to stay awake. Lovely, I think to myself, before realizing after a few moments more that the hard shoulder would also appear to have been tidied away as well.
After a few miles more I then begin to wonder what, exactly, have they been doing here for the last 12 months? Work began on this part of the M25 in May 2013 and, according to the Highways Agency’s website, whatever it is they’ve done has cost us taxpayers £129m.
As far I can tell, though, all they’ve done is repaint the white lines to turn what was the hard shoulder into an extra lane, thereby creating four lanes instead of three. And as a result of this masterpiece of road redecorating, sorry re-engineering, they are claiming that this particular section of the M25 has become a “smart motorway.” One that features “enhanced on-road technology to manage traffic flow that will improve the reliability of journey times, providing a boost for businesses and the wider economy.”