In the internet news age, everything is measurable. No longer is it just the number of papers sold that is recorded, but we can track every story we publish online, and find out how many people clicked on a particular link and for how long.
And what is undeniable is that every time we publish a story online about the M27 – whether a straightforward travel information piece or a report like today, looking at the latest on plans to upgrade the road – there is a huge amount of (if you will forgive the wordplay) traffic.
And the reason for this is obvious. Due to the way we live now, the motorway is vital. We may live in Fareham, and work in Havant. Or perhaps we live in Portsmouth, but regularly head to Chichester; regardless of the permutation, it is an unusual driver in this area who does not make regular use of the A27-M27-M275 network.
But we report delays on a daily basis, often sadly caused by rush-hour accidents which in turn are often caused by congestion-fuelled frustration and risk-taking (and often quite possibly by the ‘four into three’ lane merge between Portsmouth and Fareham).
We have expressed a few reservations about the smart motorway plan before, but provided the number of safe stopping places is sufficient, when the hard shoulder is turned into an extra lane, it is something that would help the area deal with congestion. It won’t cure it, as only improved public transport will do that, but it would be a step forward.
Whether the Solent Combined Authority is the key to getting these improvements in place, we do not know; and nobody, despite what politicians may say, does know for sure at the moment.
We would caution against the combined authority being treated as the panacea for all problems, because as has been pointed out, it may not have as much financial clout as its proponents may claim.
But whether it is through Highways England, the combined authority, or some other funding combination, we will continue to beat the drum for action to be taken to bring some relief to our congested corner of England. Because that is what all drivers in this area want to see happen.