THE HIGHWAYS Agency this week said widening the M25 will become a urgent priority if the government gives planning permission for Heathrow Terminal Five.
Work would involve widening the most congested stretch from Junctions 12 to 15 (between the M3 and M4 interchanges) from four to six lanes.
The Agency confirmed that this would take place alongside works to link the new terminal to the London orbital.
It said that although the decision to widen - approved by ministers in March 1997 and reaffirmed in the Roads Review in July 1998 - was independent of Terminal Five, the project has been deferred until the outcome of the planning inquiry.
Plans to widen the 10.9km section of the M25 were set out in the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions document A New Deal for Trunk Roads in England published in 1998 (NCE 6 August 1998).
The review said the widening would provide extra capacity where the level of traffic was already causing severe congestion at times and threatening jobs and prosperity.
Constructed between 1976 and 1985 as a dual three and four lane road designed to carry 100,000 vehicles per day, the busiest section now handles twice that number.
Terminal Five, with a dedicated spur to the M25, is expected to increase this further, but according to BAA only by a maximum of 3%.
The Highways Agency confirmed that BAA would not be expected to contribute funds to the widening scheme, but would be expected to fund slip roads to the spur.
INFOPLUS www. nceplus. co. uk