Oral statement to Parliament

Road investment strategy

Biggest upgrade to roads in a generation.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Rt Hon Sir Patrick McLoughlin MP

Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement about our plan to invest £15 billion in England’s strategic road network.

It is a new, 5-year, funded plan.

Backed by significant reform to make sure it happens.

New schemes.

New action.

Set out in one investment plan for the first time ever.

This is a fundamental change for the better.

And we need it because the strategic roads network is the backbone of our economy and our way of life.

Whether you drive or cycle or travel by bus and coach it matters.

When you buy goods from the shops or travel to work it matters.

It needs to work well and it needs to improve.

It carries a third of all traffic and two-thirds of all freight.

And it is busier than ever.

Motorway traffic has increased by almost 50% in the last 20 years.

Traffic across the entire road network has doubled since 1976.

And we have not invested enough to cope with this growth.

Our motorway network has hardly expanded since the 1990s.

Our trunk A-roads are often of variable quality and running at capacity.

Forecasts show that traffic will continue to grow and problems get worse.

This government is responding.

We have started construction on 20 major schemes.

Six of them are finished already.

Schemes that will add over 300 miles of new lanes to our strategic road network

And we have also committed to major new investments like the £1.5 billion A14 improvements between Cambridge and Huntingdon,

But this is just the start.

And today I am pleased to set out details of a much bigger plans that will hugely improve our strategic network in all parts of England.

An ambitious, funded, achievable plan.

In shaping this plan the government has kept 3 things in mind.

First, that action on our roads is just one part of a much wider commitment to improving our transport infrastructure.

We already have a 5-year investment plan for our railways that will see £38 billion spent on improvements and maintenance by 2019.

We have supported work on a northern powerhouse with fast rail links across the Pennines.

So I don’t see better roads as an alternative to investment in rail or airports or ports.

They are part of the same thing: building a transport network that is reliable and fast.

Second, we have kept in mind changing technologies.

Our road network as it stands today was designed for the vehicles and standards of the 1960s and 1970s.

But new fuels and new digital systems offer immense opportunities in the years to come and we must be ready to take them.

Already smart motorways offer a big increase in capacity.

And Britain is becoming a world-leader in low-carbon technologies.

Including £500 million of government backing for low-emission vehicles.

So it is right that we continue to invest in a network for the future not just rely on the one we have today.

Third, we must make sure investment in our road network improves lives and the environment not harms them.

That means schemes which are thought through and address long-standing problems.

Like the essential new tunnel at Stonehenge.

This will both extend dual-lane running on the congested A303 and massively improve the situation of the world’s most famous prehistoric monument.

And it means that as we develop our strategic road network we must make sure it serves the needs of every user.

Such as cycle-proofing new sections and the £100 million investment in better cycling routes across 200 priority locations which we announced last week.

Now - to do all this we need reform.

Until now, the Highways Agency been hamstrung by annual budgets which have made a mockery of long-term planning.

It has been inefficient and it has held our roads back.

This is going to change.

The Infrastructure Bill now before Parliament aims to create a new government-owned company to improve and operate the network.

A watchdog will make sure motorists get what they have been promised.

And it will be backed by a 5-year funding settlement already announced by My Rt Hon friend the Chancellor.

This will see investment in enhancements to the strategic roads network triple by the end of the next parliament to £3 billion a year.

That is why this government can say, proudly: ‘we are on the driver’s side’.

And today, in the Road investment strategy, we have the proof.

In total, 84 new schemes. Over 1,300 miles of new lanes.

Including 23 new sections of dual carriageway.

400 new miles of lanes on our motorways.

Junctions that work. Bottlenecks unblocked. Jams cleared.

I know many Hon Members have made a powerful case for investment.

And Members have also have contributed to work on the 6 feasibility studies launched last year to find solutions for particular challenges.

This has been a valuable process and has shaped the ‘Roads investment strategy’.

I am pleased that we have not just been able to act on some of the feasibility studies.

We are acting on all of them.

So let me now set out in some detail of what will happen.

Starting with the south west.

A region whose vital transport links have been neglected but which under this government will not be left behind.

Today, I can announce that as a result of the ‘A303 feasibility study’ we will bring motorway-quality journeys to this key route.

A £2 billion investment.

Starting with a 1.8 mile tunnel where the road passes Stonehenge.

It is part of over 6 miles of new dual carriageway between Amesbury and Berwick Down.

And 3 miles of new dual carriageway between Sparkford and Ilchester.

That will be followed by further work.

Including linking the A303 to the M5 at Taunton with a new dualled section.

Also in the south west:

We are upgrading the A30 between Chiverton and Carland Cross.

This will extend the expressway route to Camborne from the M5.

Now let me turn to East Anglia.

The A47 is a vital east-west link between this economic powerhouse, the Midlands and the north.

As a result of the feasibility study I can announce substantial work to the east and west of Norwich:

Upgrading North Tuddenham to Easton.

And Blofield to North Burlingham.

This will create 30 miles of continuous dual carriageway around the city.

My Hon friend for Great Yarmouth has continued to highlight the dangers of the Acle Straight.

I am pleased to be able to announce a £10 million fund for safety measures and investigations into the long-term future of this hazardous road.

Other schemes include the £280 million upgrading of the A428 between the Black Cat roundabout and Caxton Gibbet.

This will create an expressway standard road between Cambridge and Milton Keynes.

In the Midlands:

We are committing £20 million to upgrading the Chowns Mill junction between the A45 and the A6.

Junctions along the A52 around Nottingham will be improved.

Junction 10a of the A14 will be built - opening up a substantial development site.

In the north west:

The port of Liverpool will benefit from a £250 million upgrade on the link between the docks and the motorways.

We will also act on the ‘Transpennine feasibility study’ which will cut jams through a new link road to Glossop, new passing lanes on the A628 and dualling on the A61.

We will also consult on options around Mottram and Tintwhistle while keeping in mind the scenic importance of this area on the edge of the Peak National Park.

And we will commission a new feasibility study focusing on the M60 around Manchester, working closely with the local transport authorities.

And in the north east and Yorkshire:

The two further feasibility studies on the A1 will lead to improvements around Newcastle and a significant improvement to the road towards the Scottish border.

This is a main link between two capitals in the United Kingdom and as has been made clear to me it needs action.

So I can announce that we will investment more than £600 million to improve the A1 Newcastle, Gateshead Western Bypass.

And to dual the A1 north of Newcastle between Morpeth and Ellingham.

And work on tackling the notorious pinchpoint at the Hopgrove roundabout on the A64.

Finally, in its commitment to all parts of England including the north this government does not forget the south needs good roads too.

My Hon friend the Member for Oxford West and Abingdon will be pleased to hear about work on junctions on the A34 around Oxford.

As well as looking further at the long term future for this road.

Ashford will benefit from a new junction 10a of the M20 - facilitating growth in the south east of the town.

Junction 30 of the M25 will see huge improvement, strengthening access to ports in Essex.

And as a result of a further feasibility study on the A27 improvements will include a new dual carriageway bypass around Arundel.

And improvements to the road and junctions in Worthing and Lancing.

Furthermore, £75 million has been ring-fenced for the A27 east of Lewes.

Mr Speaker, this is a comprehensive package for all parts of England.

It is funded. It is committed. It will bring change.

It sits alongside our much wider investment in better transport including a transformation of our railways.

Proper co-ordination with work being done by local transport - and Network Rail.

I commend this Statement to the House.

Published 1 December 2014