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£1.4bn improvement for Midland roads as Government puts transport centre stage

£1.4bn improvement for Midland roads as Government puts transport centre stage

🕔01.Dec 2014

Details of a much-trailed £15 billion plan to increase the capacity and condition of England’s roads and the West Midlands motorway network were announced today by Transport Secretary Patrick McLouglin.

Described by the Government as the biggest transport spending boost for a generation and the first ever Road Investment Strategy, the five-year plan will deliver more than 100 new road schemes with 400 miles of new lanes on motorways.

If all of the proposals go ahead as planned, spending on roads will triple by the end of the decade.

Labour condemned the announcement as the re-packaging of old schemes dressed up as sweeteners for next year’s General Election.

The Midlands will benefit from 17 new road schemes worth around £1.4 billion, creating an estimated 900 construction jobs, Mr McLoughlin said.

Spending during the next parliament on the local and national roads network across the Midlands will be boosted further by maintenance funding worth £2.4 billion.

Highlights of today’s announcement are:

  • Expansion of the M6 junction 10 to help 10 key employment sites within a 10 minute radius, and will create 2,500 new homes helping to support economic growth
  • Major improvements to junction 6 on the M42, providing better access to Birmingham, and Coventry, supporting Birmingham airport and the NEC and providing capacity for the expected HS2 station
  • The extension of East Midlands’ smart motorways, will open up the hard shoulder on the M1 between junctions 23A and 25, reduce congestion and increase capacity – a further scheme, funded by the developers of the proposed Roxhill rail freight interchange, will transform junctions 24 and 24A, helping to fix one of the worst bottlenecks in the region
  • Enhancement of the M1 to ‘smart motorway, across the whole of the Midlands, placing Nottingham, Derby and Leicester at the heart of a smart motorway corridor linking Manchester, Yorkshire and London – as part of this, major improvements to M1 junction 21 in Leicester will greatly improve the links between the M1 and M69, improving access to the city and supporting local housing growth
  • Enhancing the A38 in Derby to create a new expressway from north Derbyshire to the West Midlands and greatly improving journeys within the city for local residents.

Mr McLouglin said: “Today I am setting out the biggest, boldest and most far-reaching roads programme for decades. It will dramatically improve the network and unlock Britain’s economic potential.

“Roads are key to our nation’s prosperity. For too long they have suffered from under-investment.

“This government has a long term plan to secure the country’s future and this £15 billion roads programme is demonstration of that. It will directly benefit hardworking families across the Midlands.

“This is the biggest investment in roads in a generation and will update major corridors in the Midlands including the M6 and M1, connecting key cities to Manchester, London, Sheffield and Leeds.”

The most controversial part of Mr McLouglin’s announcement concerned approval for a highly controversial tunnelling of the A303 under Stonehenge. The entire A303 and A358 route to the South-west will be converted to dual-carriageway status.

Chancellor George Osborne, said: “Our long term economic plan means today we can invest an unprecedented £15 billion into Britain’s infrastructure to improve repair and expand our roads.

“Our plans will transform some of the country’s most important strategic routes, with ambitious projects to dual the A303, A1, A27 and the A47 as well as spending on important local infrastructure boosting productivity and helping local economies.

“For years our roads have been neglected. Now that this government is fixing the economy, we can afford to invest properly in our roads – unlocking jobs for the future and local growth by creating a road network that is fit for the 21st century.”

The strategy also contains measures to improve the lives of communities affected by road upgrades, including:

  • £100 million to improve cycling provision at 200 key locations across the network, as well as a commitment to cycle-proof any new schemes being developed
  • £300 million environmental fund to mitigate carbon emission and reduce the number of people affected by serious noise by 250,000 – this fund will create new charge points for low emission vehicles every 20 miles across the road network, as well as enhance the landscape, protect sites of cultural or historic heritage, and reduce the impact of improving our roads on wildlife, countryside and habitats
  • £100 million to unlock future growth and housing developments.

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