THE M25 will be widened from six to eight lanes along most of its length according to final proposals of a two-year government-backed study to be published next month, NCE can reveal.
Consultant KBR's long awaited London Orbital multimodal study will recommend an extra lane is added to around 80km of the 180km motorway.
The study ruled that widening from three lanes in each direction 'is not warranted' on only two sections of the route.
'It will recommend making it more or less a dual four lane motorway along most of its length, ' said a source close to the report which will be completed next week.
The study follows a provisional report in June that did not reveal the level of widening needed (NCE 13 June). The report will confirm that extra lanes must be built within the existing land boundaries.
But the report is also expected to urge the government not to complete the widening until it can implement an area-wide trunk road charging system throughout the South East - not currently planned until at least 2010.
'There has to be a charging system in place when we cut the ribbon on a widened motorway, ' said another source. 'If we don't wait we will induce further traffic and won't deliver on our guidance.'
However, it is thought that, while the report will recommend a charging scheme is put in place soon after 2010, it will not contain much detail on proposals.
This could affect a large area of the South East stretching out to Stevenage, Luton, Aylesbury, Crawley, Guildford, Thames Valley and Thames Gateway.
The final report is instead expected to urge the government to commission a consultant for a 'wide ranging feasibility study' of charging in the South East. This would take around 18 months to assess technology, level of charges at different times of the day, traffic diversion, the effect of new airport runways and new population data following the recent census.
The Orbit study has already coordinated with other multi modal studies in the South East to ensure that traffic modelling is consistent throughout and that area-wide charging recommendations fit with other studies, the source added.
'Charging policy is crystallising, the political courage is building up, the technology is improving and things should fall into place, ' he added.
www. orbitproject. com