Major investment in south west road infrastructure

By Anita Jaynes on December 12, 2014

An ambitious £15 billion plan to triple levels of spending by the end of the decade to increase the capacity and condition of England’s roads, was announced to Parliament today by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander.

The south west of England will benefit from seven new schemes worth around £2 billion, creating an estimated 1,300 construction jobs.

Patrick McLoughlin said, “Today I am setting out the biggest, boldest and most far-reaching roads programme for decades. It will dramatically improve the network and unlock Britain’s economic potential.

“Roads are key to our nation’s prosperity. For too long they have suffered from under-investment.

“This government has a long term plan to secure the country’s future and this £15 billion roads programme is demonstration of that. It will directly benefit hardworking families across London and the south west.”

This is the biggest investment in roads in a generation and will upgrade major corridors in and around the south west of England including the A303, A30 and A419.

A radical overhaul began in 2010 with the following major improvements in the area:

  • work has already been announced to dual the A30 in Cornwall between Temple and Higher Carblake
  • the ‘smart motorway’ scheme between junctions M4 junction 19-20 and M5 junction 15-17 is up and running

The smart motorway system involves an extra lane to manage the flow of traffic and improve motorway safety.

Chair of the Cabinet Infrastructure Committee and Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, said: “World class infrastructure is vital if we are to build a stronger economy, but it matters in other ways too. It invigorates communities and gives people more opportunities to get on in life. This is why I have ensured that this government has prioritised funding roads, and railways, at a high level for future generations.

“For decades our roads have suffered from under investment, so I’m particularly delighted to be able to announce this expansive range of new road schemes today. Investment on this scale is only possible because we have taken the difficult decisions needed to control our public finances and stuck to our recovery plan which is now delivering strong growth and record numbers of jobs.

“These projects, like the scheme on the A303 in the south west, will help unleash the economic potential of both the regions they serve and of the overall economy.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, said: “I promised when I was in the south west that we would address this area’s economic needs for the future.

“Our long term-economic plan means today we can invest £2 billion into the region’s infrastructure to improve, repair and expand our roads.

“Our plans will transform some of the country’s most important strategic routes. Having recently visited Wincanton, I am certain our ambitious project to create a tunnel on the A303 and dual the road all the way to Taunton via the A358, as well as our plans for dualling along the A30 in Cornwall, will boost productivity and help the local economy of the south west.

“For years our roads like the A303 have been neglected. Now that this government is fixing the economy, we can afford to invest properly in our roads – unlocking jobs and local growth by creating a road network that is fit for the 21st century.”

Spending during the next parliament on the local and national roads network across the south west will be boosted further by maintenance funding worth £1.7 billion.

Highlights of today’s announcement are:

  •  A £2 billion transformation of the A303 into a new strategic corridor to the south west, this includes
  • This is the largest of a total of 6 road-widening projects over the next 15 years, which will create an all-dual route from the M3 to the M5 at Taunton, with improvements around Sparkford and to the A358 link being the first to enter constructionThe result will be the biggest increase of connection for the region since the opening of the M5, meaning easier journeys and more opportunities for growth.
  • Dualling of the last single carriageway gap on the A30 into Cornwall, so that an ‘expressway’ standard road will run all the way from Exeter to Camborne – together with planned work near Bodmin, this extends the dual carriageway section of the A30 by 40 miles, stopping only 15 miles from Land’s End: this will transform the way that Cornwall is connected to the rest of the country
  • Careful examination of the A417 ‘missing link’ at the ‘Air Balloon’ roundabout, developing a solution that can match both the economic importance of the route to the economy of Gloucestershire and the sensitive environmental conditions around the site of the road itself
  •  A new junction on the M49 will support the enterprise zone at Avonmouth
  • Enhancements along the M5 will unlock further development sites at Hinkley Point
  • A new 1.8 mile dual-carriageway tunnel on the A303 under Stonehenge which will unite the landscape and environment around Stonehenge – it will also unlock the key pinch-point that has prevented the transformation of the A303 in the past, making it possible to upgrade the entire route to expressway standard