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Highways Agency '£3.9bn over-budget'

The Highways Agency’s road building programme is running up to £3.9bn over-budget according to research from the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT).

CBT research suggests 75% of road projects completed last year went over-budget, with the overall budget 54% over. The overall deficit could be as high as £3.9bn.

In addition, completed roads were found to be more congested than expected. Of 20 new bypasses examined, 60% had more traffic on both old and new roads than predicted. 40% had 25% more traffic on the old route

CBT’s roads and climate campaigner Richard George said: “We need to improve transport but pouring money into this black hole isn’t the way to do that.

“Rising costs and shrinking budgets means that some of these roads will never get built, so the Government should accept that we cannot build our way out of congestion, cancel some of these over-priced schemes and invest the money instead in decent and affordable public transport to give us an alternative to traffic jams and gridlock,” he said.

The Highways Agency denied the CBT figures, saying this was an issue of estimation, not over-spending.

A Highways Agency spokesman said: “To say our road building programme is significantly over budget is wrong. There have been no significant changes in outturn costs on schemes open to traffic or schemes in construction since the latest costs were published in July 2008.”

“The Government announced in January a programme of up to £6bn investment up to 2015 to improve the national road network. We are progressing the schemes in this programme as per the timetable in the January announcement.”

“We have recently strengthened our ability to deliver our major road schemes to time and budget by making significant improvements to the way we estimate the cost of planned road schemes to deliver more accurate estimates. We now provide cost range estimates rather than single point estimates, and these are regularly reviewed as a scheme is progressed through various phases.”


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