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 (pictured) and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander.
The region will benefit from 18 new schemes worth around £2.3 billion, creating an estimated 1,500 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 Yorkshire and the North East.”
It represents the biggest investment in roads in a generation and will transform the major corridors of the M1, M62 and A1. The new funding builds on the improvements that began in 2010, including:
• the A1 upgrade between Leeming and Barton – work is underway to build an all-motorway link from Newcastle and Teesside to the rest of England by 2017;
• three stretches of Smart Motorway (a new system which includes an extra lane to manage the flow of traffic and improve motorway safety) are underway on the M1 and on the M62; and
• a second Tyne Tunnel opened in 2011, widening the A19 under the river to two lanes in each direction.
Spending during the next parliament on the local and national roads network across Yorkshire and the North East will be boosted further by maintenance funding worth £1.6bn.
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 for the M62 extension, 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 North East that we would address this area’s economic needs for the future.
“Our long term economic plan means today we can invest £2.3 billion into the infrastructure in the North East and Yorkshire to improve, repair and expand our roads. This is all about investing in the Northern Powerhouse we are seeking to build.
“Our plans will transform some of the country’s most important strategic routes, and ambitious projects such as the upgrade of the A1, as well as spending on important local infrastructure, will boost productivity and help the local economy of the North East.
“For years our roads 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.”
Highlights of today’s announcement are:
• in addition to the £300m widening scheme between Coal House and Metro Centre (announced in 2013 and currently being delivered), work will begin to widen the adjacent section to the south between Coal House and the junction with the A194 (M), as well as provision of additional lanes to the north from Scotswood to North Brunton. This will reduce congestion and enable development around Newcastle and Gateshead;
• investing £290m to upgrade the A1 from Morpeth to Ellingham to create a new expressway-standard road to Ellingham and add further improvements between Ellingham and the Scottish border. This will create 34 miles of continuous ‘expressway’ dual carriage north of Newcastle, better connecting Northumberland into the rest of the country;
• extending smart motorways westwards along the M62, so they cross the Pennines to link Leeds and Manchester. This will be the first major increase in trans-Pennine capacity since 1971, when the M62 first opened to traffic;
• planning will begin to upgrade the last non-motorway section of the A1 in Yorkshire, between Redhouse and Darrington. Once completed, it will reduce congestion and improve safety along this route, as well as creating a new corridor to the North East, reducing congestion on the M1 around Sheffield and Leeds; and;
• a study into the feasibility of building a Trans-Pennine tunnel to address the strategic gap between Sheffield and Manchester, that would transform capacity and reduce congestion while still preserving the tranquillity of the Peak District.