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Agency rejigs road spending ...

MAJOR MOTORWAY and trunk road starts will fall next year ahead of a surge of new schemes in 2001 and 2002, according to the Highways Agency's business plan, published this week.

Three new schemes worth £321M are due to start in the current 1999/2000 financial year, but seven schemes worth only £151M are due to be let in 2000/2001.

New starts the following year will leap to 15 schemes worth £445M. New starts for 1999/2000 are the £168M A2/M2 Cobham - Junction 4 project, the £146M A13 Thames Gateway DBFO scheme and the £7M A1 Tempsford Junction improvement.

Overall, the Highway Agency's budget has increased from £1.421bn in 1998/1999 to £1.487bn for 1999/2000. Of this, £454M is earmarked for the targeted improvements programme, compared with the £562M earmarked for road infrastructure improvements in 1998/1999.

The total maintenance budget has increased from £651M to £765M, although this reflects a change in spending definitions. Maintenance spending now includes safety improvements and measures to cut road journey times.

Extra funds are allocated to making better use of the existing roads network. Budgets for this work have increased from £139M to £187M.

The business plan also includes a policy of ensuring that major road works are no more than 4km long.

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