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Agency rejects criticism of congestion strategy


THE HIGHWAYS Agency this week attempted to play down accusations that it is obsessed with road building and 'risk averse' in introducing other congestion busting measures.

A report by the National Audit Office, Tackling congestion by making better use of England's motorways and trunk roads, concludes that the Highways Agency has been 'too cautious in introducing or testing out measures more readily used abroad'.

Despite their widespread adoption and reported benefits in some other countries, tidal flow, dedicated lanes, ramp metering and variable speed limits are being used only to a very limited extent in England. The Agency does not use hard shoulder running anywhere on the network, the report adds.

But the Agency rejected the Audit Office claims.

'Since the audit by the NAO, we have embarked on several new initiatives, including plans to introduce car sharing lanes on motorways and trial hard shoulder running on the M42, ' said chief executive Archie Robertson.

An Agency spokesman added that it has 'adopted a measured approach to its implementation of hard shoulder running as the safety of the travelling public is our primary concern'.

He added that the Agency was working to identify further sites where ramp metering might be appropriate. Results of trials on the M3 and M27 and its experience on the M6 will be published early in the New Year.

The spokesman also said that the Agency was monitoring four possible sites for a high occupancy vehicle lane pilot and that it was closely watching trials of dynamic lanes in the Netherlands.

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