The Government is consulting on defining a Major Road Network (MRN), identifying the busiest A-roads in the local authority network, and then targeting extra investment at them. The current proposals limit the MRN spending to road projects over £20 million. By focusing almost exclusively on roads, they miss the opportunity to invest in many high quality smaller schemes that could help the existing roads work better, by cutting overall traffic. They also exclude road maintenance which is desperately in need of more funding.
While we welcome broadening the Government's proposed Roads Fund to include local authority roads, we are concerned that limiting it to projects like big new bypasses and road widening will neglect the most important priorities, and could actually make transport worse. We know that building roads adds to traffic and moves the jams down to the next bottleneck. Integrated packages will do more to solve local congestion while helping councils cut CO2 and reduce air pollution.
We want councils to be able to use this vital funding to support a 'fix it first' approach, reducing the £12 billion local road maintenance backlog, improving safety, while also funding local packages of transport measures, including improvements to public transport, walking and cycling.