Fleet News

Fleets welcome £2bn road investment plan

THE Government's £2 billion road-widening scheme, the biggest programme of its kind in 20 years, has been praised by businesses and fleets.

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:

  • M6 Birmingham to Manchester: the road will be extended to four lanes throughout over a 60-mile stretch (some is already four lanes).
  • A1 North of Newcastle: the proposal is to extend the dual carriageway 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 the south of Sheffield, some to four lanes in either direction and some five lanes.
  • 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 bypass Stonehenge –which was not included in the multi-modal study.
  • A453 Nottinghamshire: the proposals are for minor local improvements.
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