Upgrades are welcome, but can never be the full answer

Cheryl was lucky enough to sit next to 1980s pop star Sinitta, pictured here at a previous event   Picture: PA

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All those frustrated drivers who get stuck in tailbacks on the M27 will be feeling a bit better today.

We reveal how the hard shoulder of the stretch of motorway between Fareham and Southampton is to be turned into an extra lane with a variable speed limit in a bid to cut congestion.

It’s already been tried elsewhere, so we’re pleased to report that the Department for Transport has confirmed funding is in place for the scheme.

Of course, there will be understandable concerns about losing the hard shoulder and issues of safety.

Drivers have grown accustomed to having the opportunity to pull over immediately if their vehicle suffers a flat tyre or mechanical fault.

But a system of ‘refuges’ at intervals along the M27 would still provide the means to get off the road and out of the way of traffic if the need arose.

Drivers who use the A27 will also be smiling today at news that six roundabout junctions on the Chichester bypass are to be upgraded.

It’s a very busy road at peak times and anything that can make motorists’ lives easier here has to be welcomed.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin has admitted that successive governments have failed to invest properly in our road network.

The two projects outlined above are evidence that at last this is being addressed.

Roads have traditionally suffered from political short-termism, whereas what is needed is a long-term approach that other countries have somehow managed to adopt.

But upgrading roads is never going to be the complete answer. As traffic grows, it can only hope to be a temporary fix.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again.

What we badly need in this country is a joined-up transport policy that gives people a realistic alternative to getting behind the wheel.

Because until that happens, the traffic jams will just keep on growing.