Fleet News

Government unveils £2 billion roads scheme

THE Government has released details of a £2 billion road-widening scheme, the biggest programme of its kind in 20 years.

The scheme will give the go-ahead to a number of plans shelved by John Prescott four years ago, and is an attempt to inject fresh urgency in to the Government's 10-year transport plan, which many commentators believe is falling well behind schedule, only two years after implementation.

Speaking on the BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Transport Secretary Alastair Darling argued this would not signal the end to its much-heralded integrated transport plan.

He said: 'You have got to invest in both the railways and the roads. Where there are alternatives people ought to use them.

'In relation to the roads, the time has come to face up to the fact that some of our roads are 30 to 40 years old, especially some of the strategic corridors.'

Reaction to the news has been mixed, with environmental campaigners particularly dismayed. The RAC Foundation however, called it an 'early Christmas present for motorists'.

Edmund King, the RAC Foundation's executive director said: 'Drivers, businesses and public transport users would be delighted at these essential and long overdue improvements to our roads infrastructure.

'Over the past five years, we have heard much discussion of transport but not enough real commitment to making the most of our infrastructure. This would be a positive step forwards.'

The scheme involves:

  • M6 Birmingham to Manchester - the road would be extended to four lanes throughout over a 60-mile stretch (some is already four lanes).
  • A1 North of Newcastle - the proposal is to dual it fully between Newcastle and Alnwick (some is already dual but accident levels on the road are high) and then some junction improvements between Alnwick and Berwick-Upon-Tweed.
  • North south M1 study - 60 miles of widening on the M1 from the M69 to south of Sheffield, some to dual four lanes and some dual five.
  • South West area study A303-A30 - the road would be dualled over 30 miles of gaps. Approval has been given for a deep bore tunnel to by-pass Stonehenge - which was not included in the multi-modal study.
  • A453 Nottinghamshire - the proposals are for minor local improvements.
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