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Mixed reaction after roads worth £2.3bn are shelved

Contractors this week gave a mixed response to transport secretary Philip Hammond’s decision to postpone work on a further £1bn of road schemes, including a number of managed motorways schemes.

Direct result of Review

Hammond’s announcement means schemes worth a total of £2.3bn have been cancelled or mothballed as a direct result of the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) (News last week).

In addition to the £1.3bn of schemes cancelled in the CSR, Hammond has mothballed the M1/M6 junction 19 improvement and the M20 junction 10a upgrade, which had been due to start by 2012.

While Hammond gave the green light to five existing managed motorway schemes in the first two planned tranches, he put on hold three that had been scheduled to begin by 2015. These are the M6 junctions 10a to 13, M3 junctions 2 to 4a and M4 junctions 3 to 12.

Also on hold until at least 2015 is the M25 junction 30 improvement – a key part of the road connection to DP World’s London Gateway port.

“Regrettable”

Also ruled out for the next five years are the A14 Kettering Bypass, the A160/A180 Immingham improvement, the A19 Testos junction improvements, the A19/A1058 Coast Road junction improvement, the A21 Tonbridge - Pembury upgrade, the A27 Chichester Bypass, the A38 Derby junctions project, the A45/A46 Tollbar End improvement, the A453 widening, the A5-M1 Link Road upgrade and the A63 Castle Street upgrade.

Hammond also announced that no new local authority schemes will be considered for at least two years.

The Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) said shelving the projects was “regrettable”.

“Strategic and local road projects have taken a big hit, depriving some parts of England of much needed transport improvements,” said CECA head of industry affairs Alasdair Reisner. “Local growth in areas such as the North East, East Midlands and the South West may now be held back as a result.”

“Strategic and local road projects have taken a big hit”

Alasdair Reisner

CECA said the decision would have a significant impact on workloads over the next four years.

Some contractors were more optimistic. “We don’t think it’s as bad as some in the industry would have us believe,” said Costain managing director for infrastructure Darren James.

“The focus is now on more critical schemes,” he said, adding that other schemes will now only go ahead if alternative, cheaper solutions can be found,” said James.

The CSR also announced that two schemes would go back into the plan after being deferred or put on hold in May. The £147M A11 improvement in Norfolk, which had been awarded to Birse Civils last December will now go ahead, as will the A23 Handcross to Warninglid upgrade in Sussex.

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