FEARS THAT the government was reclassifying major national road projects as regional schemes before axing them have eased after publication of the Highways Agency's spending plans for 2005/6.
Three schemes reclassified in December as regional have now had their start dates brought forward.
They e: - the £44M upgrade of the A428 between Caxton Common and Hardwick - the £29M A11 Attleborough bypass - the £8M A66 Long Newton Grade Separated Junction The decision gives new hope to the A303 Stonehenge tunnel project, which was also reclassifi d. Start of work on this depends on a planning decision by transport secretary Alistair Darling.
In December the A66 project was put back until after 2008 while the A11 and A428 were designated to move ahead 'subject to regional priorities'.
But the Highways Agency's latest business plan reveals that work on the A428 will begin later this year. Work on the other two schemes will start next year.
'In December we had 33 new starts between now and 2008, we're now talking about 36, ' said Highways Agency major projects director Keith Miller 'This seems to be a positive move and one we should applaud, ' he said.
Agency director of network strategy Hilary Chipping said that the decision proved that schemes such as the A303 Stonehenge tunnel, now deemed of 'regional' importance, had not been shelved.
Mark Hansford INFOPLUS Access the business plan via www. nceplus. co. uk