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August 02, 2013

Road networksIt’s been something of a mixed bag of news for road users over the last month. First up, the good news. Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, unveiled plans to help secure long-term investment in our road network.

Announcing £28 billion in additional funding for building, maintenance and repair to the network, Mr McLoughlin said the plans would be underpinned by legislation so it could not be undone by future governments.

McLoughlin said: “Our major roads are vital to the prosperity of our nation, connecting people to jobs and businesses to markets. They carry a third of all traffic and two thirds of all freight traffic but in recent decades we have failed to invest properly in them.

“Today’s changes will bring an end to the short-term thinking that has blighted investment in England’s roads so that we can deliver the infrastructure our economy needs. Backed by the government’s £28 billion commitment, they will give us a road network fit for the 21st century and beyond.”

While the Government has pledged a large proportion of the funds to 52 major projects – including an upgrade of the A14 linking the Midlands with Felixstowe and a new bridge called the Mersey Gateway in the northwest – the majority of the budget will be spent on roads repair and maintenance.

But then came the not so good news. The latest forecasts by the Department for Transport predict that the UK’s road network will struggle to cope with a projected ten million additional vehicles by 2040.

This, the report claims, will lead to an increase in steady delays by a huge 114% with average road speeds will fall by 8%.

All in all this means 15% of vehicles on major roads at peak times would be stuck in traffic jams – double the current figure.

One factor behind this predicted surge in vehicle numbers is that the cost of motoring will likely fall by 24% for cars by 2040 thanks to improved fuel efficiency.

There’s good news for owners of light goods vehicles too as they will see a 7% fall in motoring costs. It’s not all good news though and company’s running HGV’s should start saving as their outlay is expected to rocket by 36%!

While the figures in the DfT’s report are only predictions there’s little to put a smile on drivers’ faces.

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