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Motorway hard shoulder results show new widening not needed

25 October 2007
Campaign for Better Transport [1] today called on the Government to drop expensive motorway widening schemes, in response to Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly’s announcement on the success of the M42 hard shoulder running trial, and a feasibility study into rolling out the scheme to other parts of the network [2]. 

Just three proposed motorway widening schemes – the M1 M6 and M25 – are estimated to cost over £13 billion [3]. Hard shoulder running would be a cheaper, quicker and more sustainable solution to the widening.  By reducing speed limits on motorways to 50 mph (as on the M42 trial) there are real carbon reduction and safety benefits, as well as reduced congestion [4].

"We’re pleased active traffic management has been shown to increase road capacity without much land take and for a fraction of the price of full-scale motorway widening. The Government should find it very hard to justify motorway widening schemes now," said Rebecca Lush Blum, the group’s roads and climate campaigner.

"But managing traffic is not enough; we need to reduce it. In allowing for increased traffic levels, active traffic management ignores the the real, pressing problem of too much traffic and rising CO2 levels. The Government must reduce traffic by cutting the roads-building programme."


Notes for editors

[1] Campaign for Better Transport is the new name of Transport 2000, which has been securing better transport policy and programmes since 1973.

[2] “Kelly announces new ways to beat motorway jams,” DfT press release, 25 October 2007: http://www.dft.gov.uk/press/releases/dftpressnotices/pnkellymotorwayjams

[3]  The M1 widening latest cost estimates are £5.125 billion. See "Review of Highways Agency's Major Roads Programme", a report for the Secretary of State for Transport by Mike Nichols, Chairman and Chief Executive of the Nichols Group, on cost estimating and the management of the Highways Agency's major roads programme, March 2007, Appendix 12: http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roads/nicholsreport/nicholsreport

The proposed M6 widening between junctions 11a and 19 is estimated by the Highways Agency to cost at least £2.9 billion. See "M6 junctions 11a to 19: a comparison between online widening and an offline Expressway", report by Highways Agency, July 2006, page 5: http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/documents/M6_Summary_Report(1).pdf

The M25 widening would cost taxpayers over £5bn in a PFI contract. See the Highways Agency press relese, October 2006: http://www.gnn.gov.uk/content/detail.asp?ReleaseID=234196&NewsAreaID=2

Full-scale widening costs around £50-60m a mile whereas ATM is estimated to be around 20-40% of the cost of full widening

[4] When the hard shoulder is activated the speed limit on all four lanes is reduced to 50mph.  Reducing speed has enormous impacts on reducing CO2 – see http://www.slower-speeds.org.uk/content/view/100/

Traffic levels in this country have risen 16% over the past decade