Targeting congestion on motorways and A-roads
740-word report on the Department for Transport's and Highway Agency's roads improvement programme.
An £11.2 billion road improvement programme is reducing the impact of congestion on drivers on major roads.
By October 2004, 23 schemes had been completed as part of the targeted programme of improvements.
As a result, congestion faced by drivers on motorways and national roads around the country is becoming less of a headache.
A report by the National Audit Office in March 2003 showed that the programme was making a significant contribution to road improvement. The report stated: 'In recent years, the (Highways) Agency has improved the condition of the network and has also strengthened the management and delivery of its maintenance programme.'
Drivers are already experiencing a difference on the M6 Toll Road around Birmingham and on a new bypass in a rural area, the A46 Brough bypass.
Its first three-month review, published in July 2004, showed that traffic on the old M6 had fallen by 10 per cent. The toll road is now carrying around one-fifth of all traffic flowing through the West Midlands conurbation.
Drivers cut an hour-long drive by half during peak times when they take the toll road instead of the M6. They experience time saved as far afield as the A50 through Stoke-on-Trent.
The A46 Newark to Lincoln bypasses the village of Brough, allowing motorists to experience quicker journeys with smoothly flowing traffic.
Not only can drivers overtake safely, but the bypass is also expected to save one life every year and cut 26 personal injury accidents.
The Bypass has meant a return to rural life for the Brough residents. Villagers now have cleaner air and less noise and do not have to put up with a constant stream of heavy lorries.
Other schemes that have been completed include:
- the Great Glenn Bypass between Kettering and Leicester,
- the Silverstone Bypass, and the Whitfield Turn to Brackley improvement, on the A43 south of Northampton,
- the A6 Clapham Bypass near Bedford, and
- the A27 Polegate Bypass between Brighton and Hastings.
Ongoing construction and planned initiatives include:
- turning three-lane sections of the M25 and parts of the M1 into four lanes,
- the A1 Willowburn to Denwick near Alnwick in the north east,
- the A650 Bingley Relief Road, north of Bradford,
- the A500, City Road and Stoke Road junctions in Stoke-on-Trent, and
- the A30 Bodmin Indian Queens, near Bodmin, Cornwall.
Since 2000, the Highways Agency has been identifying, assessing and managing a wide range of road schemes to tackle bottlenecks.
Regional planning bodies have also looked at transport in general and have examined congestion on roads. Recommendations from these 'multi-modal studies' have also been added to the list.
The programme's aims include supporting local economic regeneration and respecting the physical environment.
The Highways Agency has also identified a programme of smaller works that are being managed by local highways authorities. By July, 27 bypasses had been completed, with fifteen under construction and another 24 schemes in the pipeline.
Motorways and A-roads, managed by the Highways Agency, are the backbone of the national transport links. Although they are less than 2.5 per cent of England's roads, they carry nearly one-third of all traffic and up to two-thirds of freight.
This shows that roads that provide safe, efficient and reliable transport links are what people and businesses need.
In 2000, the Government launched its ten-year investment plan for transport. Roads are a major part of that investment.
However, the Government has broken with the assumptions of the past. It does not regard building more roads as the only answer.
Tackling congestion on major roads means having a long-term solution. It includes looking at land-use planning and environmental issues. It means looking at all types of transport and bringing them together under a co-ordinated policy.
As Alistair Darling, Secretary of State for Transport has commented:
"We must look at the whole picture, at how we best contribute to the quality of life. We must look at a road network which contributes to our economic growth, and that is consistent with our social and environmental objectives."
Improving the use of roads that already exist is part of that. The government has estimated that more road capacity can reduce congestion on national roads by over four-fifths.
The targeted programme of improvements is playing a vital role increasing road capacity. For Britain's motorists, the future looks brighter than ever.
Secretary of State's announcement of proposals concerning the multi-modal studies, July 2003.
Detailed look at the targeted programme of improvement by region, published in 1998.
Information about the Highways Agency's strategic plan to improve the road network,
Published: 24 February 2005.