ROAD SPENDING needs to increase five fold to avoid a traffic congestion crisis on Britain's roads, motorists group the RAC Foundation claimed last week.
In its report Motoring towards 2050, the RAC warns that annual spending under the government's £180bn, 10 year transport plan would have to rise 'four to five times' and be sustained over 30 years just to keep current traffic congestion levels stable.
This is because the RAC claims UK road traffic levels are predicted to rise by nearly 50% by 2031 and possibly another third by 2050.
High cost schemes to beat future jams should include more road tunnels in urban areas to 'remove traffic from sensitive locations and reduce noise'.
Falling tunnelling costs and the environmental and social benefits of not building on the surface justify the cost, it says.
Where land is not available for motorway widening, elevated motorways should be built above existing carriageway, says the report.
Although this would be five times more expensive than surface building, the new roads would not require land take and the elevated sections could be restricted to long distance traffic.
Such measures would complement a road widening and bypass building program stretching way beyond 2010, says the report.
Last weekend, the government hinted at future road building beyond 2010, with the leaking of a report by the Prime Minister's transport adviser Lord Birt.
Birt's report on long term strategy is not expected to be made public, but it is understood to propose a new network of limited entry and exit tolled super motorways costing an estimated £750M.
INFOPLUS Motoring towards 2050 is available at £295 from the RAC Foundation on 0207 747 3445.