Congestion on M27 is a major problem for the region

STEVE CANAVAN: Take note of why I love this country so much

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Presumably when transport minister John Hayes visited the region yesterday he was lucky enough to avoid the queues that plague the M27.

It’s almost a shame – at least then he would have a better idea of how bad it can be.

The very fact he came down from London by train says a lot for the road links.

As the main artery across southern Hampshire, the motorway has served a crucial purpose since it was built in the 1970s. But, as anyone who travels along it regularly at peak times can tell you, it is no longer able to cope with the number of vehicles that want to use it.

Traffic jams and lengthy queues have become the norm at several points along its 25-mile length. The extra capacity granted by the widening of two stretches in 2008 – one at Fareham and one at Southampton – was quickly swallowed up by the ever-increasing number of motorists.

Mr Hayes said ‘no more of this ad-hoc piecemeal funding of roads’ and pledged to get the Highways Agency to look more closely at the particular problems in this area.

Fine words, but as he had the good sense to admit, that is all they are for now.

He also acknowledged the potential for ‘shortchanging local people,’ and let’s face it, being shortchanged is something that people around here could quite justifiably feel when it comes to dealings with the government.

With thousands more homes planned for the region over the next two decades, the current infrastructure would fail to cope with the extra influx of users.

Work is currently underway to improve junctions three to five as part of a national £317m ‘pinch point’ improvement package, which is all well and good for those using the western end of the road, but not for those closer to Portsmouth.

Considering the wider importance to the region of Portsmouth, and indeed Southampton, something needs to be done.

We shall wait with interest to hear what the Highways Agency has to say.