There’s no mystery or secret about the fact that the M27 – and most of the roads that feed into it – are plagued by congestion.
On any average weekday morning at rush hour, traffic will be stop-start as it passes the junctions between Hedge End and Whiteley – and can be hazardous for anyone not expecting to have to put the brakes on at short notice.
There’s also the temporary extra lane between Fareham and Portsmouth that, while briefly adding to the capacity, is also the cause of congestion as it adds a slow lane and then takes away the outside lane when it reverts to three from four – a bizarre arrangement that many people round here are still perplexed by, eight years after it opened.
So today we wholeheartedly back local politicians’ efforts to get cash to improve the motorway, which is so crucial to everyone living along this part of the south coast.
The argument put forward by Cllr Sean Woodward should, we think, be a persuasive one: in a nutshell, in exchange for pushing on with the 6,000-home new town Welborne, the government should cough up cash to improve the infrastructure, ie better junctions and better roads.
And although we have previously urged caution over the introduction of a ‘smart motorway’ – suggesting that a trial might be best before turning over the hard shoulder to be an extra lane at peak times – if it can be proved to be safe, and to have safe havens for any broken-down cars, then we would welcome the plan.
A major criticism aimed at the proponents of road-building schemes is that the amount of traffic will only expand to fit the enlarged roads, thus not alleviating congestion. However, there is nothing wrong with arguing for road schemes in tandem with improved public transport such as extending the BRT scheme from Gosport and Fareham and – one day, perhaps – seeing better rail services to cope with an expanding population.
We hope our politicians will keep up the pressure –because we certainly will not keep quiet on the issue.