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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 April, 2004, 23:44 GMT 00:44 UK
Road improvements essential - RAC
Motorway traffic
RAC wants scenes like this to become history
Road improvements are essential "to prevent congestion crippling commerce", a motoring organisation has said.

The RAC Foundation will tell the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) national conference that transport problems are holding back business.

It points to a recent BCC survey in which 76% of firms said operating costs rose because of transport failings.

"We welcome the recent announcements to widen the M25 and M1 but more needs to be done," the RAC's Edmund King said.

Congestion 'dire'

The foundation's executive director said: "The BCC survey clearly shows that transport problems have become a major issue for businesses.

"The RAC Foundation is also concerned at the dire and growing congestion on our roads so has identified a list of urgently needed improvements to the strategic road network."

Mr King said the foundation had plans which would cost around 2bn per year over 10 years, and that the money could come out of existing taxation on road users.

The scheme, outlined in January this year, would see a series of major roads improved around the country together with the building of tunnels to protect the environment.

"The foundation has concentrated on the motorways and trunk roads because, even though they account for only about 4% of the network, they carry around 35% of traffic," he said.
"We claim to be the fourth largest economy in the world so surely we can afford a decent road system"
Edmund King

"For the longer term, a comprehensive review is needed to establish priorities in terms of the objectives for the network over the next 30 to 50 years."

He did not want the government to use money from its road budgets on railways, but praised its plans to plan ahead to meet air transport needs.

"Businesses need to see a similar vision for strategic roads, which carry the vast bulk of passengers and freight," he said.

"We claim to be the fourth largest economy in the world so surely we can afford a decent road system to support economic growth.

"We don't want growing congestion to cripple commerce."

Work already started

The Department of Transport said that significant work was already under way to improve the country's road network and beat congestion.

A spokesman told BBC News Online: "Our 10-year plan for transport commits 21bn to the strategic network, therefore we've already committed to same amount."

He said that "decades of underinvestment" were being tackled and that 93 out of 100 improvements designed to improve safety and congestion had already been completed.

He added that in addition to commitments to the M1 and M25, "great swathes" of other motorways would be improved.

"We are making great improvements, it can't all be done overnight but the beginnings are there. The money and commitment are there and improvements will follow."

He added that initiatives such as traffic officers, who will help to clear up small-scale incidents to allow traffic to flow more easily, would also help to ease congestion.


SEE ALSO:
Link road revamp plans unveiled
20 Apr 04  |  Manchester


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