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Government drops £5bn motorway widening plans

18 January 2009
The Government has cancelled plans to widen several hundred lane miles of motorway, the Campaign for Better Transport revealed today. [1] Drivers will instead be able to drive on the hard shoulder when the ordinary lanes are congested.

Ministers planned to widen parts of the M1, M25 and the M62, which would have cost £2 billion [2], and there were also plans to widen 51 miles of the M6, which was expected to cost at least £2.9 billion. [3] However these plans were dropped on Thursday and a programme of hard shoulder running approved instead.

Richard George, the group's roads and climate campaigner, said:

"Finally the Government has accepted that road building is a hugely costly exercise which doesn't tackle the ever-rising levels of traffic. We simply cannot build our way out of congestion, so these plans are a welcome alternative to costly and environmentally devastating road building."

"People need real alternatives to driving. The Government should use the billions it has saved to invest in public transport, creating thousands of jobs and helping us break the cycle of car dependency and congestion."

Notes for editors

1. The decision to approve hard shoulder running was announced in Thursday’s Heathrow decision (pdf) 
2. In a Parliamentary Written Answer on the 6th of March 2008, Jim Fitzpatrick revealed the cost of the Highways Agency major roads programme. The list of schemes included several sections of motorway that will now be covered by hard shoulder running:


  • M1 J10-13: £601m
  • M1 J32-35a: £139m
  • M1 J28-31: £135m (J30-31)
  • M1 J39-42 (Wakefield): £202m
  • M25 J5-7: £214m
  • M25 J23-27: £419m
  • M62 J25-30: £215m (J25-27)
  • Total: £1.925 billion

3. "Are these the world’s costliest roadworks? M6 widening at £1,000 an inch," Guardian, 31 July 2007.