United Kingdom

Government announces major road investment strategy


Published

The United Kingdom’s Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, have announced a £15 billion road investment strategy. The government will invest in more than 100 new road schemes of which 84 are described as ‘brand new’.

The move comes five months before the scheduled general election on 7th May 2015 and has been described by the main opposition Labour Party “yet another re-announcement on promised road improvements. The Government has ‘announced’ plans for road investment at least three times since 2013. And no additional money has been announced”.

Many of the roads schemes announced are in marginal constituencies.

You can find the Road Investment Strategy: Overview here.

The text of the press release on the government website is as follows:

“Biggest upgrade to roads in a generation

The £15 billion ‘Road investment strategy’ will increase the capacity and improve the condition of England’s roads.

An ambitious £15 billion plan to triple levels of spending by the end of the decade to increase the capacity and condition of England’s roads, was announced to Parliament today (1 December 2014) by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander.

The government is investing in more than 100 new road schemes over this parliament and next, 84 of which are brand new today.

Over 1,300 new lane miles will be added by schemes being delivered over the next parliament on motorways and trunk roads, tackling congestion and fixing some of the most notorious and longstanding problem areas on the network. When 90% of journeys are taking place on our roads this work is vital to help people get on and get around.

These plans are published today in the first ever ‘Road investment strategy’, which has been developed to keep the population connected and the economy growing.

This includes £1.5 billion of investment to add an extra lane onto key motorways to turn them into smart motorways, boosting connectivity between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Yorkshire.

Patrick McLoughlin said:

“Today I am setting out the biggest, boldest and most far-reaching roads programme for decades. It will dramatically improve our road network and unlock Britain’s economic potential.

“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.”

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.

New projects announced today include:

• South west: a commitment of £2 billion to dual the entire A303 and A358 to the south west, including a tunnel at Stonehenge. This will allow roads users to drive on a dual carriageway from London to within 15 miles of Land’s End
• north east: setting aside £290 million to complete the dualling of the A1 all the way from London to Ellingham, just 25 miles from the Scottish border, to make the Great North Road truly great again
• north west and Yorkshire: driving forward the northern powerhouse by completing the smart motorway along the entire length of the M62 from Manchester to Leeds, together with improvements to trans-Pennine capacity from Manchester to Sheffield, representing the first increase in trans-Pennine capacity since 1971
• north west: committing to improve links to the Port of Liverpool, as part of a plan of 12 projects designed to improve access to major international gateways on which the nation’s international trade depends
• south east: funding £350 million of improvements to the A27 along the south coast, tackling severe congestion at Arundel, Worthing and Lewes – consulting with the local community on options
• east of England: investing £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, building on the recently completed full dualling of the A11 from London to Norwich, to ensure the east of England has the connections it deserves
• London and the south east: improving one-third of the junctions on the entire M25, to aid frustrated commuters stuck in traffic around the capital
• 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

Chair of the Cabinet Infrastructure Committee and Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny 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.

“For decades our roads have suffered from under investment, so I’m particularly delighted to be able to announce this expansive range of new road schemes today. Investment on this scale is only possible because we have taken the difficult decisions needed to control our public finances and stuck to our recovery plan which is now delivering strong growth and record numbers of jobs.

“These projects, like the scheme on the A303, will help unleash the economic potential of both the regions they serve and of the overall economy.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, said:

“Our Long term-economic plan means today we can invest an unprecedented £15 billion into Britain’s infrastructure to improve repair and expand our roads.

“Our plans will transform some of the country’s most important strategic routes, with ambitious projects to dual the A303, A1, A27 and the A47 as well as spending on important local infrastructure boosting productivity and helping local economies.

“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.”

As well as increasing capacity and transforming the busiest sections of the network, the government is transforming the Highways Agency into a government-owned company; 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.

The strategy also contains measures to improve the lives of communities affected by road upgrades, including:

• £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
• £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 our roads on wildlife, countryside and habitats
• £100 million to unlock future growth and housing developments

The 84 new road projects outlined today will improve connectivity across the UK, from the north east to the south west. The new investment broken down by region is:

• north east and Yorkshire – 18 schemes worth around £2.3 billion and estimated to create 1,500 construction jobs
• north west – 9 schemes worth £800 million and estimated to create 600 jobs
• Midlands – 17 schemes worth £1.4 billion and estimated to create 900 jobs
• east of England – 15 schemes worth £1.5 billion and estimated to create 1,000 jobs
• London and south east – 18 schemes worth £1.4 billion and estimated to create 900 jobs
• south west – 7 schemes worth £2 billion and estimated to create 1,300 jobs

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