Last edited 03 Apr 2015

Road investment strategy

On 1 December 2014, Patrick McLoughlin MP, Secretary of State for Transport gave details of planned improvements to England’s road network, launching a ‘Road investment strategy’. Ref Biggest upgrade to roads in a generation, 1 December 2014.

The government committed to establishing a road investment strategy worth £15 billion at the 2013 spending round.

This was followed on 10 November 2014 by Prime Minister David Cameron’s speech at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) annual conference in London, during which he announced plans for the biggest road-building programme since the 1970s. This ‘roads revolution’ includes plans to invest in more than 100 projects on the strategic road network by the end of the decade, 84 of which the government believes are new announcements. This will add 1,300 new lane miles to the roads network.

The Road investment strategy itself, sets out ‘…an ambitious, long-term programme for our motorways and major roads with the stable funding needed to plan ahead effectively’. It comprises:

  • A long-term vision outlining how the government will create smooth, smart and sustainable roads.
  • A multi-year investment plan that will be used to improve the network and create better roads.
  • High-level objectives for the first roads period 2015 to 2021.

New projects announced by Patrick McLoughlin include:

  • A commitment of £2 billion to dual the A303 and A358, including a tunnel at Stonehenge.
  • £290 million to complete the dualling of the A1 from London to Ellingham.
  • Completing the smart motorway along the length of the M62 from Manchester to Leeds.
  • Improving links to the Port of Liverpool.
  • £350 million of improvements to the A27.
  • £300 million to upgrade the east-west connection to Norfolk.
  • Improving one-third of the junctions on the M25.
  • Improving the M42 to the east of Birmingham.
  • £100 million to improve cycling provision at 200 key locations across the network.
  • £300 million to mitigate carbon emissions and reduce the number of people affected by serious noise.
  • £100 million to unlock future growth and housing developments.

In addition, the government is changing the Highways Agency into a government-owned company (Highways England), which it claims will mean funding can be allocated on a longer-term basis.

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.’

On 10 November, 2014, David Cameron said, “We are now not only spending as much on rail as any Government since Victorian times, but on roads we are spending more than any Government since the big expansion of the 1970s… Hundreds of extra lane miles on our motorways and trunk roads. The green light given to major projects that have been stalled for years. Action to improve some of the most important arteries in our country… This will be nothing less than a roads revolution – one which will lead to quicker journey times, more jobs, and businesses boosted right across the country.”

The announcement has been criticised by some, suggesting that many of these projects already existed but had simply not been delivered, and highlighting potential damage to national parks and historic sites such as Stonehenge whilst making people even more dependent on their cars.

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