Plans to widen the M1 to provide four lanes have reached a crucial stage.
Rare sight: The M1 without traffic
The motorway is due to get an extra lane along a 53-mile stretch through the East Midlands, from junction 21 to junction 30.
On Wednesday the plan moved officially into the Government's programme of major road schemes.
That means the Highway Agency will start work on designs, procuring land and weighing up the impact on the environment.
The expansion will start in 2006 and take 10 years to complete, costing £1.9bn.
It involves widening between junction 21 south of
Leicester to junction 30 north-east of Chesterfield, in Derbyshire.
It also includes a new bypass of Kegworth in Leicestershire, on the A6.
Paul Watters, head of roads and transport at the AA Motoring Trust, said: "Improvements to the M1 are vital to reduce the crippling jams there
that mess up the lives of those who use it."