Government announces biggest investment in roads since 1970s

Highways Reporters

Chief secretary to the treasury Danny Alexander has unveiled the Government’s biggest programme of investment in roads for 40 years.

He outlined details of the specific highways projects that will be awarded cash from the Government’s £100 billion infrastructure investment programme that was announced by Chancellor George Osborne in the Spending Review on Wednesday (26 June).

The Government is committing £10 billion of investment in road repairs between 2015-16 and 2020-21.

More than £4 billion will be spent on national road maintenance – enough to resurface over 21,000 miles of road.

The other £6bn of that money will be spent at a local level – allowing local authorities to fill the equivalent of 19 million potholes a year.

Alexander said: “While Labour left the road network on the hard shoulder we’re bringing it into the fast lane.”

He listed a string of improvements, including to parts of the A19, the A63, the M6, the M5, the A38, the A21, the M4 and the Chichester bypass.

“We will deliver all of the major projects in the Highways Agency’s pipeline,” noted Alexander.

The Highways Agency is also being transformed into a publicly owned corporation from today (27 June). Alexander said: “It will be an organisation that will have the long term funding certainty and flexibility to deliver the best possible road network for the UK’s motorists.”

Addressing the House of Commons on Thursday (27 June) Alexander said: “This government will invest over £28 billion over the six years from 2014 in enhancements and maintenance of national and local roads.

“Firstly, we will take action to fix the backlog of maintenance, which has left road surfaces in communities up and down the country crumbling.

“Secondly, we will deliver all of the major projects in the Highways Agency pipeline. We will add two lanes to the busiest motorways – bringing another 221 lane miles to our road network. It will see us tackle some of the most congested parts of our network.

“Like the £1.5 billion A14 scheme between Huntingdon and Cambridge. This is a scheme of strategic national importance, which will unlock jobs, housing and growth in the region, as well as providing key relief for a major freight route. And I am delighted to announce that we will be bringing forward the start of construction by almost two years, to 2016.

“Thirdly, this money will pay for us to identify and deliver solutions for the most notorious problem spots across the country.”

Responding to the announcement, Institute of Highway Engineers president Richard Hayes, said: 'We welcome the announcement of £28 billion funding for road schemes with £10 billion towards road maintenance from 2015. However, there is a real need to spend this money and act now to prevent further deterioration of our crumbling networks. The next two years will see roads continue to be patched and mended whilst failing to undertake preventative maintenance which will save the country money in the longer term. The schemes earmarked for funding are long overdue and real progress can only be made if the planning and design process is accelerated to bring relief from congestion as quickly as possible."

Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) director general, Nick Baveystock, added: “Government’s commitment to provide our strategic roads network with the long-term funding certainty it needs is excellent news and should signal the end of the ‘stop and start’ funding which has hindered effective maintenance and management of this vital asset for too long. The £10bn investment for road repairs, with £6bn allocated for local roads, is also a positive step and will go some way to clearing the £10.5bn local roads backlog. These funds however, must be complemented by a focussed, joint central and local government programme for the work. Given the significant pressure on local authority budgets, this will ensure the funds are protected, spent in a cost efficient way and do ultimately result in improved road conditions for the UK.”

List of new road schemes:

  • A19 between Newcastle and South Shields

  • A63 in Hull

  • M6 junctions between Birmingham and Manchester

  • M5 junctions Bromsgrove to Worcester;

  • A38 Derby junctions

  • M1 junction near Long Eaton and south of Rugby

  • A21 Tonbridge to Pembury

  • Junctions on the M4

  • The M23 Gatwick junctions

  • The A27 Chichester bypass.

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