Page last updated at 13:53 GMT, Thursday, 11 December 2008

Key Olympic roads to be set aside

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Plans to help athletes, officials, and media move efficiently during the Olympic Games

Main roads leading to London's Olympic stadium would be upgraded so athletes were quickly and safely transported to the 2012 Games, under government plans.

Busy routes in Stratford would feature in the Olympic Route Network, transport minister Jim Fitzpatrick said.

The network would also apply to Olympic sites including the sailing and rowing venues at Weymouth in Dorset and Eton Dorney in Berkshire respectively.

And Broxbourne in Hertfordshire, home of Olympic canoeing, would be included.

A 14-week consultation has begun to canvas views on the proposals.

In London, traffic signals and junctions would be improved, with additional CCTV cameras and the creation of a traffic-control centre.

The Olympic Delivery Authority has insisted no roads will close entirely during the Games, but said in certain cases, lanes could be set aside exclusively for Olympic and Paralympic traffic.

We shouldn't underestimate the scale of the challenge. The Olympic and Paralympic Games are 20 times the size of the football World Cup
Jim Fitzpatrick, transport minister

Typically this would happen on roads which already had two or three lanes in each direction.

The consultation document outlines the possible impact of the network, including delays to other vehicles, stricter residential parking rules and the need to reschedule roadworks.

Black-cab driver Steve McNamara, who edits Taxi newspaper, believes congestion will inevitably increase in August 2012.

"Anything that takes road space available and increases the number of vehicles on the roads is going to be a disaster," he told BBC London.

About 55,000 athletes, officials, journalists and sponsors will travel to the Olympics daily. A further 16,500 people will use the network on each of the 12 days of the Paralympics Games.

'Positive legacy'

In Dorset, work is due to resume on a 84m relief road, which is intended to ease traffic around Weymouth and Portland.

Construction stopped on Tuesday when The Woodland Trust threatened to take legal action, claiming the route would damage the environment.

Last year campaigners lost a High Court legal bid to stop the road.

The current main road into Weymouth and Portland
Campaigners lost a High Court fight against the Weymouth relief road
Dorset County Council said it had now reached an "agreement" with the trust, however, and work would restart on Thursday.

Mr Fitzpatrick said it was important that the Olympic Route Network left "a positive legacy", particularly in London.

"We shouldn't underestimate the scale of the challenge," he stressed. "The Olympic and Paralympic Games are 20 times the size of the football World Cup.

"That is why we are planning the best ways of getting everyone from A to B now.

"Good transport will be absolutely vital to ensure everyone can enjoy the 2012 events, while still allowing Londoners to go about their normal business."

Paralympic champion Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, who helped to launch the consultation, said transport was an issue which would "make or break" the Games.

"When it works, people don't talk about it. But when it doesn't work, when you have athletes missing events - that is just devastating."

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