CSR/infrastructure announcement 27 Jun 2013

Chancellor promises biggest programme of road building in 50 years

Responding to the Comprehensive Spending Review, Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said:

“Overall we welcome today’s commitment to long-term transport funding, but capital expenditure on our strategic roads is not yet back to the levels seen before the cuts started in 2011 and the reduction in resource spending risks exacerbating the pothole plague.

“You can’t kick-start an economy with back-loaded measures. Road schemes tend to deliver excellent value for money, but the benefits for the nation will only come if they receive the green light sooner rather than later.

“Eighteen months ago we identified 96 major road schemes worth £11 billion which the DfT did not have the cash to progress. Our latest audit shows 33 have since been given the go-ahead. However, most are small projects and an £8 billion funding gap remains.

“If the Chancellor is searching for money he need only look at motoring taxation. Unlike bus and rail passenger who are heavily subsidised, drivers contribute a net amount to the Chancellor each year - £33 billion in fuel duty and VED alone.”

The next day more detailed road spending was outlined in the Investing in Britain's Future infrastructure document. Key amongst the detail was funding stability for the Highways Agency:

"To support this revolution in roads investment, drawing on the findings of the Cook Review, the Government will transform the way the High ways Agency is run, by turning it into a publicly-owned corporation with long-term funding certainty and flexibility."

There was also an outline of capital spending up to the end of the decade:

 

                   

 

Government long-term spending plans

           

 

£m

2015-16

2016-17

2017-18

2018-19

2019-20

2020-21

Total

     

High Speed 2

 

832

1,729

1,693

3,300

4,000

4,498

16,052

   

 

Highways Agency

 

1,497

1,907

2,316

2,614

3,047

3,764

15,145

   

 

Network Rail

 

3,548

3,681

3,770

3,789

3,824

3,859

22,471

   

 

London Transport investment

 

925

941

957

973

990

1,007

5,793

 

LA major projects

 

819

819

819

819

819

819

4,914

   

 

LA maintenance

 

976

976

976

976

976

976

5,856

   

 

Integrated trasport block

 

458

458

458

458

458

458

2,748

 

 

It also said:

The Government  will invest over £28 billion in enhancements and maintenance of national and local roads to:

  • add extra lanes to the busiest motorways, the equivalent of at least an additional 221 lane miles, by opening the hard shoulder to traffic and using new technology;
  • build all available Highways Agency road projects, tackling the most congested parts of the network, subject to value for money and deliverability, including the A14 from Cambridge to Huntingdon and M4 from London to Reading;
  • identify and fund solutions to tackle some of the most notorious and longstanding road hot spots in the country, including feasibility studies to look at problems on the A303 to the South West, the A27 on the south coast, the A1 north of Newcastle, the A1 Newcastle-Gateshead Western by-pass, connectivity to Leeds airport and trans-Pennine routes between Sheffield and Manchester;
  • upgrade the national non-motorway network managed by the Highways Agency with a large proportion moved to dual-lane and grade-separated road standard to ensure free-flowing traffic nationwide;
  • repair the national and local road network. A total commitment of £10 billion with nearly £6 billion to help local authorities repair the local road network and over £4 billion to enable the Highways Agency to resurface the vast majority of the national network by 2020-21; and
  • transform the Highways Agency into a publicly-owned corporation, drawing on the findings of the Cook Review, which has the long-term funding certainty and flexibility which will enable it to deliver capital efficiencies worth £600 million by 2020-21.

Professor Glaister said:

"We welcome today’s pothole pledge, recognising the importance of maintaining the roads we have with building the new roads we need. But the timetable is critical. We are still talking about action taking place over the medium term, not today and tomorrow. And we still don’t know exactly where the money is coming from. We have been waiting more than a year for a review of road funding to be published. That wait continues.

“"Crucially, by giving the Highways Agency corporation status the Government is finally acknowledging the need to set long term plans for our strategic roads just as they have always done for the railways."”

 

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