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Wednesday, 30 January, 2002, 11:42 GMT
1.68bn road plan unveiled
Traffic on the M4
The money will improve motorways and trunk roads
A 1.68bn package of measures has been unveiled to keep England motoring in 2002-03, with more cash for road maintenance and early-warning messages of jams ahead.

The Highways Agency report includes a pledge to carry out 90% of routine maintenance at off-peak times or at night.

And in a ground-breaking deal, payments to a private firm for building and running a road will be reduced if average traffic speeds dip below a certain level.

"Drivers will benefit from these programmes of work," said Transport Minister David Jamieson, launching the scheme on Wednesday.

The motorway and trunk road network is one of the safest in the world but we will make it safer

Tim Matthews
Highways Agency chief executive

The 1.68bn programme covers the 12-month period from April 2002 and involves England's motorways and trunk roads.

Improvements include:

  • 740m on maintenance - up from 687m in 2001-02

  • 698m on major road schemes, including the 17m A27 Polegate bypass near Eastbourne in East Sussex

  • A multi-million pound innovative public private partnership contract - yet to be awarded - to build and run the 33-mile section of A1(M) between Darrington and Dishforth in Yorkshire. The financial arrangements of the scheme depend on how fast traffic travels

  • Automatic congestion-ahead warning systems for 125 miles of motorways - including stretches of the M1 in Northamptonshire and parts of the M6 in Cheshire and Staffordshire

  • More variable message signs on motorways

  • Junction improvements, cycleways, and noise mitigation projects

  • Improved, user-friendly emergency telephones along motorways

    Innovative solutions

    Mr Jamieson said: "Through this plan the agency is building on its excellent record of delivering services to the public.

    "I welcome the innovative solutions it is bringing forward to tackle congestion, improve safety and minimise the impact of roads on the environment."

    Tim Matthews, chief executive of the Highways Agency, said: "Delivering safer, more reliable journeys for road users is the central requirement for the agency under the 10-year plan for transport.

    "The motorway and trunk road network is one of the safest in the world but we will make it safer for users and those living next to it."

    Mr Matthews said it was intended that maintenance work should affect only 7-8% of England's 5,841-mile motorway and trunk road network at any one time.

    Bridge safety

    He added that ministers were now examining Highways Agency and Health and Safety Executive reports on bridges over railways, ordered in the light of last year's Selby rail crash.

    Mr Matthews anticipated the reports would be published shortly.

    According to Mr Jamieson, some authorities are now getting four times more money in their local transport planning funds, which can be spent on road maintenance.

    As well as the Polegate scheme, seven other major schemes will open to traffic in 2002-03.

    They are:

  • A1 Willowburn-Denwick in Northumberland

  • A6 Great Glen bypass in Leicestershire

  • A43 Silverstone bypass, Northamptonshire

  • A43 Whitfield Turn-Brackley Hatch improvement in Northamptonshire, Leicestershire and Oxfordshire

  • A43 M40-B4031 dualling in Northamptonshire, Leicestershire and Oxfordshire

  • A66 Stainburn and Great Clifton bypass in Cumbria

  • A11 Roudham Heath-Attleborough improvement in Norfolk

  • See also:

    13 Jan 02 | Scotland
    Businesses seek transport investment
    26 Nov 01 | UK Politics
    British transport 'worst in Europe'
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