The announcement gives the go-ahead to a number of plans shelved by deputy prime minister John Prescott four years ago. It is an attempt to inject fresh urgency into the Government's 10-year transport plan, which many commentators believe is falling well behind schedule only two years after implementation.
Transport Secretary Alistair 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.'
High street chemist chain Boots, which is based in Nottingham, one of the areas with a proposed major roadbuilding scheme, praised the move as good for business.
A spokesman said: 'Boots believes the Government's new transport plans for the East Midlands are great news for Nottingham's growing economy.
'Since the original plans to widen the A453 were approved at a public inquiry in 1996 the region's economy has grown significantly. Boots' turnover alone has grown by more than £1billion in the past six years.
'Nottingham needs an enhanced transport infrastructure for the good of its economy and jobs. Boots supports the proposed improvements to both the M1 and the A453.'
The RAC Foundation called it an 'early Christmas present for motorists'.
Edmund King, the RAC Foundation's executive director said: 'Drivers, businesses and public transport users will 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: