‘Boldest’ road strategy unveiled

Published: Monday 1st December 2014 by The News Editor

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More than 80 new road schemes have been announced by the Government as it outlined how it would spend an already-promised £15 billion on English motorway and trunk routes over the next five years.

The projects include, as expected, a tunnel on the A303 at Stonehenge – a notorious bottleneck – as well as £1.5 billion to be spent on adding extra lanes to some motorways.

Improvements to junctions on the M25, to the A27 in Sussex, to approaches to Liverpool and to the A1 in the north east of England are also contained in the package billed as the first-ever Road Investment Strategy.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin hailed the strategy as “the biggest, boldest and most far-reaching roads programme for decades”, while Chancellor George Osborne said it would “transform some of the country’s most important strategic routes” .

Chief Secretary to the Treasury and chairman of the Cabinet Infrastructure Committee Danny Alexander said the projects would “help unleash the economic potential of both the regions they serve and of the overall economy.”

New projects announced today include:

:: South West – £2 billion to dual the entire A303 and A358 to the south west, including a tunnel at Stonehenge. This will allow road users to drive on a dual carriageway from London to within 15 miles of Land’s End;

:: North East – £290 million to complete the dualling of the A1 all the way from London to Ellingham, just 25 miles from the Scottish border;

:: North West and Yorkshire – Driving forward the Northern Powerhouse project by completing the smart (lane increasing) motorway along the entire length of the M62 from Manchester to Leeds, Together with improvements to transpennine capacity from Manchester to Sheffield, this represents the first increase in transpennine capacity since 1971;

:: North West – Improving links to the Port of Liverpool, as part of a plan of 12 projects designed to improve access to major international gateways;

:: South East – £350 million of improvements to the A27 along the south coast, tackling severe congestion at Arundel, Worthing and Lewes;

:: East of England -: £300 million to upgrade the east-west connection to Norfolk, by dualling sections of the A47 and improving its connections to the A1 and A11;

:: London and the South East – Improving one-third of the junctions on the entire M25, Britain’s busiest motorway;

:: Midlands: improving the M42 to the east of Birmingham, improving the connectivity to Birmingham airport, the National Exhibition Centre, the local Enterprise Zone, and pave the way for the new High Speed 2 interchange station.

In addition the strategy has more details of the already-announced plan to turn the Highways Agency into a government-owned company. The Government says this will mean funding can be allocated on a longer-term basis, saving the taxpayer at least £2.6 billion over the next 10 years.

There will also be £100 million to improve cycling provision at 200 key locations across the network, as well as a commitment to cycle-proof any new schemes being developed.

Also, there will be a £300 million environmental fund to mitigate carbon emission and reduce the number of people affected by serious noise by 250,000.

This fund will create new charge points for low-emission vehicles every 20 miles across the road network, as well as enhance the landscape, protect sites of cultural or historic heritage, and reduce the impact of improving the roads on wildlife, countryside and habitats,

In addition there will £100 million to unlock future growth and housing developments.

Spending during the next parliament on England’s roads network will be boosted further by maintenance funding worth more than £10 billion across the local and national road network,

Mr McLoughlin said ” Roads are key to our nation’s prosperity. For too long they have suffered from under-investment.

“This Government has a long term plan to secure the country’s future and this £15 billion roads programme is demonstration of that. Better roads allow us to travel freely, creating jobs and opportunities, benefiting hardworking families across the country.”

Mr Osborne said: “For years our roads have been neglected. Now that this government is fixing the economy, we can afford to invest properly in our roads – unlocking jobs for the future and local growth by creating a road network that is fit for the 21st century.”

Mr Alexander said: “World class infrastructure is vital if we are to build a stronger economy, but it matters in other ways to.

“It invigorates communities and gives people more opportunities to get on in life. This is why I have ensured that this Government has prioritised funding roads, and railways, at a high level for future generations.”

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “For too long, our road network has been a source of frustration, not growth. There are whole regions of our country that are unable to reach their full potential.

“To build a stronger, fitter economy in Britain, where every region can thrive, we need to change that – giving our regions’ most strategic roads the serious investment and attention they deserve.

“Past governments have done it for the South East. I want to do it for the rest of the country.”

Published: Monday 1st December 2014 by The News Editor

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