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Roads lobby prepares case for higher spend

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MOTORISTS GROUPS said last week that they will put the next government under early pressure to speed up spending on road building.

The RAC and the AA have both launched policy documents aimed at what is expected to be a new transport secretary even if Labour wins a third term.

Top of the list is a demand for more clarity over the timing of major road building and motorway widening schemes.

The RAC's Agenda for Action document pushes for a new tranche of road building.

'We are saying that what's in the programme is not enough.

In effect we need to double the current programme to get us up to scratch including widening most of the major motorways, ' said executive director Edmund King.

The Highways Agency has increased its targeted programme of improvements from 33 to 36 new starts between now and 2008 (NCE 7 April).

Over the next three years the Agency expects to spend £2.1bn on major road schemes.

King said roads should be given priority over rail spending, as they are elsewhere in Europe.

An AA spokesman said it was particularly concerned about Treasury plans to reclassify some national roads as regional (NCE 24 February).

'This will inevitably lead to more and more discussions and less action, which is a major worry, ' he said.

Meanwhile, chairman of business lobby group the CBI Digby Jones warned that Britain faces a roads congestion crisis unless the next government starts a £300bn, 10 year transport infrastructure spending programme.

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