Solent Combined Authority would provide funds for work on M27, says council boss
INCREASING capacity on the M27 from three lanes to four would be a priority under a proposed new Solent cabinet, a council leader has said.
Plans to turn the hard shoulder of the M27 into an extra lane of the motorway were unveiled by Highways England last year as part of a country-wide upgrade scheme.
The government body previously estimated that the work to transform the road from Junction 4 to Junction 11 would take place in 2017/18.
But when pressed for a start date by The News, the body said there was no ‘firm date’ for its inception.
Now, Councillor Sean Woodward, leader of Fareham Borough Council, says the proposed Solent Combined Authority would seek transport powers to carry out the work itself with government funds.
He said: ‘It should be a priority here to speed up transport between Portsmouth and Southampton,
‘The combined authority would help us take these powers from Highways England and bring forward the proposals ourselves.’
The SCA is proposed by the unitary authorities in Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight.
It would act as a Solent cabinet, taking devolved powers from central government and has been backed by all three councils and has the support of Cllr Woodward.
He added: ‘A smart motorway scheme is vital to improving access on the M27 and as we already have the hard shoulder, it won’t cost as much as people are thinking.’
Suella Fernandes, MP for Fareham has long called for improvements on the motorway at Junctions 9, 10 and 11.
Miss Fernandes said: ‘Upgrading the M27 to a smart motorway is urgent and essential to help the hundreds of thousands of commuters who suffer with delays and congestion on a daily basis.
‘I’ve spoken to the Chancellor, the Transport Secretary and the Highways Agency about the need for a smart motorway here. They work effectively to increase capacity and help traffic to run more smoothly, shorten journey times and reduce the number of traffic collisions.’
An estimated 120,000 vehicles use the 30-mile road a day.
Highways England previously said the works would be finished by 2020/21.