The organisation that looks after the country's major roads is facing a transformative year in 2015
By the end of March, in the South East alone, the Highways Agency will have invested £339 million in road maintenance over the year, and a further £286 million in improvement work. Over the same period more than 400 miles of road across the region will have been resurfaced.
Since April, several significant road improvements have opened to traffic, including a widened A23 near Gatwick airport, two sections of new smart motorway on the M25 and the launch of Dart Charge, a new way of collecting the Dartford Crossing use charge that is already helping to speed up journeys and reduce congestion.
In the next three months, the Highways Agency expects to:
- Start work on a major project to upgrade the A21 in Kent to a dual carriageway.
- Continue work on a project to add an extra lane to the M3 in Surrey.
- Complete work to install Dart Charge, which is improving journeys at the Dartford Crossing.
- Begin main construction on a project to improve the A13 in Essex through its junction with the M25 near junction 30.
- Substantially complete the last of 12 projects to boost the economy by relieving congestion at known congestion hotspots - part of the Government’s pinch point programme.
Highways Agency regional director Simon Jones said:
Excellent infrastructure is vital to a successful economy, and the investments we are making in the South East’s roads will deliver massive benefits for people and businesses across the region. 2014 was a really successful year for roads in the South East.
We’ve opened two sections of upgraded smart motorway on the M25, widened the A23 south of Gatwick and carried out many hundreds of smaller projects – all of which will help the competitiveness of the region and the country as a whole. 2015 is set to be even better, with the promise of record investment in roads and a reformed Highways Agency delivering a faster, more efficient and better service for our customers.
I know that roadworks mean disruption, but I offer people the promise that we will always do all we can to deliver these vital improvements in a way that keeps traffic moving as much as possible – and the result will be an improved, faster, safer road network.
From April, the Highways Agency is set to become Highways England, a government owned company with fixed five year funding and the promise of the biggest investment in roads since the 1970s.
In December, the Government announced details of 127 national road projects, 31 of which are in South East England – up to £3 billion of investment for the region. In addition, there has been a commitment to ongoing maintenance on the network, with a 41% increase in funding for activities like road resurfacing and lighting renewals.
In the meantime, 12 pinch point schemes, which were announced in 2012, are all expected to be substantially complete this spring.
- Improving the junction of the M40 and the A34 near Bicester.
- Signage improvements and resurfacing on the M20 near Maidstone.
- Improving the Ford Roundabout on the A27 near Arundel.
- Two junction improvements on the M27 – one at junction 5 for Southampton airport, and another at junction 3, for Southampton itself.
- Two junction improvements on the M3, at junction 9, for the A34 and on the junction 6 Black Dam roundabout near Basingstoke.
- An upgrade to the A3 Ham Barn roundabout near Petersfield.
- A traffic light upgrade on the Handy Cross roundabout at interchange of the M40 and A404 near High Wycombe.
- Improving traffic flow at junction 10 of the M4 near Reading.
- Completing a missing section of smart motorway near junction 6 of the M25 in Surrey.
- Technology upgrades at junctions 8 and 11 of the M20 in Kent.
A time lapse video from one of the M27 junction improvements – near Southampton Airport – has been released today by the Highways Agency. The high definition footage shows progress on the £4.9 million project so far, with construction underway on widening slip roads at the junction and building a new dedicated left hand turn lane for drivers joining the eastbound M27. All schemes in the pinch point programme were prioritised in close liaison with Local Enterprise Partnerships; the M27 improvements alone will help support the creation of 12,800 new local jobs and 7,640 new homes over the next five years.
In addition to the major schemes announced in December, this April the Agency will publish route strategies for all roads on its network, setting out its operational and investment priorities until March 2021, and give an indication of the priorities beyond that.
Members of the public should contact the Highways Agency Information Line on 0300 123 5000.
Journalists should contact the Highways Agency press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer.