Transport secretary Ruth Kelly has today announced a six-year £6bn billion investment package for England’s motorways and other key roads which includes further roll-out of hard shoulder running.
Included in the announcement is the upgrading of the A1 to motorway standard between Dishforth and Barton, widening the M25 between Junctions 16 and 23 and Junctions 27 and 30, widening the A14 between Ellington and Fen Ditton and plans to implement hard shoulder running on the M6 around Birmingham and on junctions 10 to 19 of the M1 through the East Midlands.
In total 800km of the motorway network is now being considered for hard shoulder running, including the majority of the remaining three lane sections of the M1, half the remaining three lane sections of the M25, the entirety of the “Birmingham Box” and the M6 between Birmingham and Manchester and urban sections of the M4, M5, M60, M62, M27 and M3.
A Command Paper published alongside Kelly’s announcement confirms that the M1 Junction 10-19 is the latest stretch to be considered for hard shoulder running.
“I am determined to get the best from our road network so that motorists have reliable journey times on roads that are safe and well-managed. The greatest barrier to this is congestion. It is frustrating and has serious consequences for the economy and the environment,” said Kelly.
“To achieve this we need a smarter programme of investment. The £6bn I am announcing today will allow us to develop and implement more innovative approaches to the way we use our major roads. This includes measures like opening the hard shoulder when traffic is at its heaviest, alongside some conventional widening where that makes best sense.
“Where we add new capacity through measures like this I am also interested to see what role car share or tolled lanes could play in helping traffic flow more smoothly - giving motorists a choice about how they make their journeys.”
New funding has also been announced for our biggest towns and cities, recognising that 80% of congestion is currently in urban areas. This sees eight areas - Bristol, Greater Manchester, Leicester, London, Merseyside, South Yorkshire, Tyne and Wear and the West Midlands - benefiting from the first allocation of the performance-based £60m Urban Congestion Performance Fund.
Leeds has also won pump-priming funding to join those local authorities looking at tackling congestion through public transport improvements combined with local congestion charging. Cambridgeshire and Reading also receive further pump-priming funds to carry on developing their congestion-busting plans.
“The majority of congestion is in our towns and cities, where the answer cannot be building new roads. That is why I will continue to support councils who want to investigate whether radical packages, which include public transport improvements combined with local congestion charging, would be the right solution for them,” said Kelly.
Today’s announcement includes revised cost estimates for the Highways Agency Major Roads Programme, including regional priorities.