TRANSPORT MINISTER Lord MacDonald last week dismissed reports that the Government is planning a £20bn spending spree on road improvements.
'It's much too early to say. We are still negotiating with the Treasury over what is to go in our 10 year plan for transport due out this summer, ' he told the Commons transport subcommittee.
But MacDonald added that he was planning to extend the existing roads programme. 'We already have a roads programme of 41 schemes. There are other areas of motorways, trunk roads and local roads we would want to invest in, ' he said.
MacDonald denied this was a U-turn in government policy, contradicting a statement in the 1998 Integrated Transport White Paper that said: 'Simply building more roads is not the answer to traffic growth.'
He said: 'Our priorities are unchanged. That is to increase transport choice for all travellers.'
MacDonald said the 10 year plan would detail how the bridge strengthening programme would be completed. Of 52,000 bridges in the UK, 3,400 still need strengthening to take 44t lorries.