Highways England has announced its next series of major road improvements, with £19.9 million being invested as part of the Growth and Housing Fund. The road improvements are focused into three schemes, which could lead to as many as 10,000 houses being built and 6,000 jobs created. PetrolPrices takes a look to see if your area will benefit from any of the newly announced improvements.
The three new schemes
The first scheme involves an expansion of the M27 at Junction 9, Whitley Way, which lies around 10 miles from Southampton. The project could see up to 3,500 new homes built and 250 jobs created. It is funded by £9.9 million from the Growth and Housing Fund, as well as a further £3 million from Highways England’s Congestion Relief fund.
The second project is the expansion of Gloucestershire’s A46 at Anstey Lane. The scheme could result in the creation of 2,300 homes and 260 jobs, with £5 million funded by the Growth and Housing Fund. A further £2.8 million would come from private investors.
In the East Midlands, the third project is the expansion of Junction 23 on the M1. The plans will involve £5 million from the Growth and Housing Fund, £3.2 million from local growth funding and a further £10 million worth of private funding.
The Growth and Housing Fund
The government and Highways England created the Growth and Housing Fund to help boost the economy by creating safe, efficient and reliable roads for journeys around the country. It is one of the five objectives of their Strategic Business Plan and involves a total investment of £15 billion. It covers major roads and motorways spread over 100 schemes.
Most of the projects, like those above, are funded in part by the scheme, along with private contributors and local authority investment. This allows for major works to be undertaken to improve the road system, as well as the building of more homes to deal with the country’s housing shortage.
Other schemes being funded
As well as these large projects, a number of smaller regional schemes have already been announced. Some are already taking place, with many due to be finished in the next 12 months.
The A589 Greyhound Bridge in Lancashire is being refurbished in order to allow HGVs to cross it. Improving access for larger vehicles to the area should boost businesses, helping them to thrive and continue employing local people.
The A361 in Devon will see regeneration to the dual carriage stretch, which will support local businesses and tourism in the area, as well as enhancing access to the M5. The project will also include improvements to the drainage system.
Meanwhile, around £5 million is earmarked for works on rural and regional roads in Northumberland, making it easier for people to reach top tourist destinations such as Hadrian’s Wall and the Northumberland National Park.
These projects are all part of the biggest investment in the road network since the 1970s. The government realises that this is a key part of boosting the country’s economy, which is a priority in these politically and financially sensitive times. Not only will the infrastructure improvements make for better experiences for people who use the roads regularly, and for those visiting nearby attractions, but they will also make business deliveries easier.
Since April 2015, Highways England has delivered £4 billion worth of investment in motorways and main trunk roads. 16 schemes are currently underway. The projects have added 175 miles of capacity to the country’s roads, including work on smart motorways to help the flow of traffic on the busiest roads.
Will this investment ensure that the UK’s road network is truly fit for purpose, or is congestion increasing at such a pace that improvements just can’t keep up? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.