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£15bn road investment strategy announced

Words: Laura Edgar

The government has re-announced a £15 billion Road Investment Strategy to increase road capacity in England.

The spending was initially unveiled by Prime Minister David Cameron at the Confederation of British Industry’s annual conference in November. Today transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander revealed more details about where and how the money will be spent.

The investment will go towards 84 new road schemes and in total, more than 100 projects over this Parliament and the next.

The aim of the investment is to tackle congestion across the country by adding more than 1,300 new lane miles and addressing long-standing problem areas of the road network.

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.”

About £1.5 billion will see key motorways turned into smart motorways in an attempt to improve connectivity between cities including London, Birmingham, Manchester and Yorkshire.

Regional investment breakdown:
North-East and Yorkshire: £2.3 billion on 18 schemes – A1 upgrades and dualling in Yorkshire
North-West: £800 million on nine schemes – A57, A628 and A628 trans-Pennine route improvements, upgrade M53 to smart motorway
Midlands: £1.4 billion on 17 schemes – M6 junction 10 expansion, M42 junction 6 improvements, M1 smart motorway across Midlands
East: £1.5 billion on 15 schemes – dualling A428, upgrade A12, M11 junction 7 improvements
London and South-East: £1.4 billion on 18 schemes – M25 junction improvement, upgrade port access
South-West: £2 billion on seven schemes – M5 junction improvement, A303 tunnel and dual carriageway

Additionally, the investment includes dualling the entire length of the A303 and A358 in the south-West and creating a tunnel at Stonehenge; completing the smart motorway along the M62, from Manchester to Leeds and upgrading the east-to-west connection to Norfolk.

Agreeing that England’s roads are suffering from under-investment, Alexander said: “World-class infrastructure is vital if we are to build a stronger economy, but it matters in other ways too. 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.”

Speaking to The Planner, acting CEO at Centre for Cities, Andrew Carter, said: “It is encouraging to see that the Autumn Statement is pegged to feature further details around a major suite of infrastructure projects, including 80 new road schemes. These projects should complement proposed public transport investments, such as HS2 and HS3, that focus on improving connectivity within and between cities in the UK – particularly in the north of England – where linking labour markets and providing greater opportunities for firms to collaborate and exchange ideas will provide significant benefits to businesses and workers alike.

“The economic case for many of these projects has been well made over many years, and we support any moves to turn good intentions based on sound economic and financial rationale, into real projects with clear time frames for implementation. Too often, policy announcements made in the months before an election are then lost to time during the next Parliamentary term. But given the scale and urgency of the UK’s infrastructure needs, now is the time for all parties to rise to the challenge of delivering projects we will need to help grow our local and national economies.”