The UK Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has announced Highways England (HE) road improvement schemes worth up to £20m (US$24.5m) that are intended to create thousands of jobs and homes in the UK South West, with a further £2.5m (US$3m) to boost economic growth in the North East.
The news of the investment was delivered as Grayling visited Exeter to see how the road improvements will change lives in the area. The improvements to the M4 and M5/A30 motorway corridors will unlock the development of more than 3,300 homes and create more than 6,000 jobs for people living in the Swindon, Exeter and Weston-super-Mare areas. The Transport Secretary also announced a scheme on the A1 trunk road in Darlington.
The four schemes announced by Grayling are:
£5m (US$6m) for improvements to the intersection of the M4 junction 15 and the A419 near Swindon to unlock one of the largest housing and commercial developments in the country, with construction to start in 2018;
£4.5m (US$5.5m) to deliver the A30 / M5 J29 Tithebarn Link Road, which will release three housing and employment sites at the strategically important intersection of the A30/A303 and the M5 to the east of Exeter. The scheme comprises a new cycle bridge over the M5 and a new link road connected to the M30. It will also reduce traffic on the A30 link to the M5 J29 and provide an alternative to the existing route. The scheme is supported by £4.6m (US$5.6m) in contributions from the developer and will open in March 2019;
£750,000 (US$918,225) funding to improve the northbound M5 at junction 21, near Weston-super-Mare. This will help support the ‘Weston Villages’ development of 6,000 new houses and 4,000 new jobs to the west of the M5 at junction 21. Developers are investing £450,000 (US$551,000) and the scheme will be completed in 2018;
£1.01m (US$1.2m) to improve junction 58 of the A1(M) at Darlington (below), unlocking two development sites that could see the construction of 1,200 homes and create 5,000 new jobs, with work due to complete in 2017. The scheme will be delivered in March 2018 and is supported by £1.46m (US$1.8m) of contributions from the developer.
Announcing the schemes, Grayling, said, “We’re undertaking the biggest modernization program for a generation to bring our roads into the 21st century, and give people the safe and reliable journeys they expect. But these improvements will do even more, allowing the construction of thousands of homes and the creation of thousands of jobs to give a huge boost to the area’s economy.”
Jim O’Sullivan, Highways England CEO, commented, “We’re committed to working with local partners to deliver specific schemes such as these, which will make a real difference to communities and support regional economies. The improvements are necessary to accommodate the extra journeys the developments will create, but without the government investment they would not have been viable. We will continue to use our Growth and Housing Fund and work with a range of local stakeholders to unlock further development sites around the country.”