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Congestion schemes 'make journeys longer'

Words: Huw Morris

A £317 million project to tackle traffic jams has made journeys longer on some of England’s major roads.

Highways England’s “pinch point” programme of 119 schemes found that benefits for rush hour journeys were outweighed by delays at other times of the day. These were largely caused by the introduction of traffic lights.

The programme was introduced in 2011 to relieve congestion, stimulate growth in local economies and improve safety.

The programme comprised small-scale projects costing up to £10 million involving junction modifications, traffic lights, widening slip roads and new signs.

Longer journeys in off-peak periods cost £5.6 million compared with shorter trips during peak times which had a benefit of £5.1 million. Nearly half of the schemes failed to achieve an objective of cutting journey times.

Problem roads include the junction of the A5 and A49 in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, the M6 junction 23 in Newton-Le-Willows, Merseyside and the M40 junction nine in Wendlebury, Oxfordshire.

Highways England said the impact of schemes should be considered across all 168 hours of the week and “not just the 10-30 peak hours’. The programme, which was completed by March 2016, was largely delivered by its predecessor the Highways Agency.

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