Belfast Telegraph

Monday 24 November 2014

Road spending schemes outlined

Drivers will be allowed to drive on the hard shoulder of two sections of the M25 during busy periods under one scheme
Drivers will be allowed to drive on the hard shoulder of two sections of the M25 during busy periods under one scheme

Major new multimillion-pound road schemes have been announced by Transport Secretary Philip Hammond.

He gave details of eight motorway schemes including one to allow motorists to drive on the hard shoulder of two sections of the M25 at peak times.

Mr Hammond also announced plans for seven local schemes worth £300 million including a bypass to the north of Lancaster and a new road in Taunton in Somerset.

Including improvements to the A556 from Knutsford to Bowdon in Cheshire, there are 16 new schemes to add to eight projects announced by Chancellor George Osborne last week.

Mr Hammond also said there would be a pot of more than £600 million of funding for further local authority projects. He said: "While we have had to make some tough choices, I am pleased that spending on transport was treated as a priority for the Government in the spending review.

"This Government sees transport as a key driver of growth nationally and in the regions. So I am delighted to be able to give the green light to 24 new transport projects and a fund worth over £600 million for many more schemes to bid for."

He went on: "Taken together, this investment will not only bring benefits in terms of reduced congestion, shorter journey times and more efficient public transport, but also provide a vital economic boost.

"For every pound we spend on Highways Agency schemes, on average we will get back £6 of benefits and in many cases there are even higher returns for local authority schemes," he said. "Transport is vital to securing the UK's long term prosperity. That is why these schemes are so important and why I will continue to argue for investment which delivers long term benefits for both the travelling public and the economy as a whole."

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: "We welcome Philip Hammond's admission that major road schemes give excellent value for money so why is it that while capital spending on transport over the next four years is broadly flat in cash terms, the Highways Agency's share is being slashed by 34%?

"Once again ministers have failed to have regard for the way most people travel - on the roads," he said. "Certainly the billions being earmarked for high-speed rail will do little to ease the congestion misery for drivers."

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