|What is the Government proposing for our roads?
20 Mar 2012
• There is an urgent need to repair the decades-long degradation of our national infrastructure and to build for the future with as much confidence and ambition as the Victorians once did. We need good roads and we don’t have enough capacity in places of key demand. There’s nothing green about a traffic jam, and gridlock holds the economy back.
• Yes, we need to move passengers and heavy goods onto rail. But we also need to widen pinch points, add lanes to motorways by using the hard shoulder and dual overcrowded A-roads. That is why the Prime Minister has asked the Department for Transport and Treasury to carry out a feasibility study of new ownership and financing models for the national roads system and to report progress in the autumn.
• We are looking at new ownership and financing models for the roads system to increase investment and reduce congestion. We will look at how we can get large scale private investment into the national roads network. The intention is to look at how we can get large scale private investment into the national roads network from sovereign wealth funds, pension funds, and other investors to increase capacity and boost economic growth.
• One option would be for roads to be run like regulated utilities, such as water. Other infrastructure - like water - is already funded by private sector capital through privately owned, independently regulated utilities. We want to see whether roads can be financed in this or another way. All options will be looked at including a regulated utility option like there is in water infrastructure, and a more independent Highways Agency.
• This does not mean road tolling or road pricing on existing roads. Under the regulated utilities model a proportion of Vehicle Excise Duty could be replaced by a charge set by an independent regulator, similar to water bills, for the maintenance and expansion of the road network by private operators. An independent regulator would ensure that the interests of drivers come first. The Government is clear that tolling of existing roads will not be considered, but as announced at the Autumn Statement, the government is looking at the case for tolling in specific cases already, such as to part-fund improvements to the A14.
• Investing in roads infrastructure. The Autumn Statement announced £5 billion of new money for infrastructure in the next three years funded from savings from current spending, as well as £5 billion of capital spending in the next Spending Review. This included investment in a large number of transport projects, including over £1 billion to tackle areas of congestion and improve the national road network, including:
o £270 million for two new managed motorway schemes to allow use of the hard shoulder at congested times on the M3 and M6;
o £150 million for improvements to the M1/M6 intersection, £110 million for the A14 Kettering Bypass, £160 million for widening the A453 and £110 million for the A45/46 Tollbar End improvement scheme;
£220 million for smaller projects which will deliver significant improvements on the road network, such as removing bottlenecks and improving safety and road layout (HM Treasury, Autumn Statement, November 2011, p. 31)