South East England’s £2.2b roads improvement plan released
Improving the capacity and condition of roads in the South East was the focus of a meeting between Highways England and suppliers to discuss how £2.2 billion of government funding will be spent.
The brief includes improvements and repairs along a series of motorways and A roads to give road users simpler, faster and more reliable journeys, designed to boost the area’s economy and bring the country closer together by 2021.
The work is part of the government’s ‘Road Investment Strategy’ to triple levels of spending on roads by the end of the decade, which was announced last year.
Highways England, the government-owned company which took over responsibility for England’s motorways and major A roads earlier this year, set out its plan for the South East at an event at the Mandolay Hotel in Guildford on Thursday, September 24.
Work will start on 24 new major projects by 2020, in addition to upgrades already underway on the M3, A21 and M25 at junction 30, cutting congestion and improving journey times for drivers.
Major upgrades that will begin in the South East over the next 5 years include:
- enhancing capacity on the M3 between Winchester and Southampton
- enhancing capacity on the M27 between Southampton and Fareham
- upgrading the M20 near Maidstone to a smart motorway
- upgrading the M4 to a smart motorway between Reading and the M25
- tackling congestion on the A21 between Tonbridge and Pembury
- upgrading the A27 in Sussex
- improving junctions on the A2 near Bean and Ebbslfeet
- improving the A34 between the M4 and M40
- increasing capacity on the M2 between Sittingbourne and Maidstone
- improving junctions on the M3 near Winchester
- improving the M27 and M271 near Southampton
- tackling delays on the A31 near Ringwood in Hampshire
- improving access to the A12 and A3 from the M25
- upgrading the M25 to the latest generation of smart motorway, with five lanes between the M40 and Chertsey
- developing plans to reduce congestion on the A3 near Guildford
- developing plans for an additional Lower Thames Crossing
Maintaining the existing network is also top priority, according to Highways England.
More than 18,716 metres of safety barrier and fencing will be replaced or maintained along with nearly 7070 road lights. Ninety-one out of 171 road signs will be replaced.
And Highways England will keep a relentless focus on safety, aiming for a 40% reduction in road casualties by 2020.
Simon Jones, south east regional director at Highways England, said: “Around 8.7 million people live and work in South East England, more than any other region, and our 932 miles of major roads are some of the busiest in Europe.
“The M25 alone is used to make an estimated 1 million journeys every day. We’re delivering £2.2 billion investment in improvements to the South East’s motorways and major A roads over the next five years.
“That includes nearly 150 miles of extra lanes, new junctions, and measures to tackle congestion, benefitting businesses, local residents and road users as well as delivering a fourfold return on investment for the UK economy.
“It’s vital that we continue to improve the existing road network as well, which is why we’re investing over £200 million this year alone in resurfacing, improving technology and safety measures and other maintenance projects.
“The region’s motorways and dual carriageways are vital for our economy and this huge investment will ensure they remain fit for purpose for many years to come.”