The UK Department for Transport (DfT) has released three of the six reports that are part of the government’s next phase of road improvements, which will get underway from 2020. The current Road Investment Strategy (RIS 1) period covers 2015 to 2020.
The three reports cover: the Manchester to Sheffield Trans-Pennine tunnel (below), the A1 east of England (above), and the Cambridge to Oxford expressway (bottom). Studies into the M25 south west quadrant, the Manchester northwest quadrant, and the Northern Trans-Pennine A66 and A69 corridors, are also underway. Final reports of all six schemes will be completed in the next six months and will inform the development of the government’s second Road Investment Strategy (RIS 2). The six studies were launched by the government in autumn 2015, and are aimed at addressing some of the biggest challenges facing the UK’s road network.
Five routes have been shortlisted for the Trans-Pennine tunnel, the most ambitious road scheme undertaken in the UK in more than 50 years. The study shows the continued strong case for the tunnel, which could provide safer, faster and more reliable journeys for motorists. The tunnel between Manchester and Sheffield could be a national first and almost halve journey times between the cities. The tunnel would also provide an economic boost to the two cities, as well as the surrounding area. The link would help protect the environment by reducing traffic through the Peak District National Park, as well as support the government’s plan to build a Northern Powerhouse.
The Oxford to Cambridge Expressway (below) strategic study has found that a new link will improve journey times, up to 30 minutes along the length of the route, and support economic growth in the towns and cities on the Expressway. The new road would benefit commuters and businesses in Cambridge, Oxford and Milton Keynes, some of the fastest growing areas in the UK, and have a wider positive impact on the country’s economy.
The A1 east of England strategic report shows the need for improvements to be made to parts of the 62-mile (100km) section between London and Peterborough. The study sets out the case to upgrade key parts of the A1 in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire, and shows improving the road could cut congestion and help reduce the environmental impact of the existing layout. A number of options to improve the A1 will now be developed, including a new motorway section between Baldock and Huntingdon, improving junctions, and upgrading the east to west connectivity around the route.
UK Transport Minister John Hayes said, “I want people up and down Britain to benefit from quicker, more reliable journeys. Our cities and towns are the lifeblood of our economy and they, as well as our rural communities, need strong connections to thrive. We are already spending £15 billion on the biggest upgrade to the road network for generations. This next phase is aimed at creating more vital links, creating jobs and opportunities, and helping hardworking families across the country feel the benefits of our investment.”