Major improvements to the A27 and several other busy commuter routes in the south were promised by the government today.
The works are included in more than 80 new road schemes as the government outlined how it would spend an already-promised £15 billion on English motorway and trunk routes over the next five years.
The package pledges £350 million of improvements to the A27 along the south coast, tackling severe congestion at Arundel, Worthing and Lewes.
The projects include, as expected, a tunnel on the A303 at Stonehenge – a notorious bottleneck – as well as a £30m investment in the A34.
The main route from the Midlands to the south will see funding to ensure a crucial freight link and enhanced junctions around Oxford and Winchester.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin also announced improvements to junction 9 of the M3, which connects with the A34.
The junction will be widened and remodelled to reduce congestion.
Other confirmed schemes include improved sliproads on the M3 junction 10, junction 11 and 12, and improvements where the M3 meets the M27.
Further west, the government announced that the A31 at Ringwood will be widened to help local traffic crossing the Avon and substantially improve safety.
On the M27 from junction 5 at Southampton Airport to junction 8 there will be widening and signalisation of sliproads and access routes to junction 8.
There will be replacement of rail bridges in Southampton on the local road network to reduce pressure on the M27.
The improvements will see a dedicated left turn lane for traffic leaving the M271 for Southampton Port and free flow traffic from the Port on to the M27.
Around 10 of the 31 junctions on the M25 will also be improved.
The transport secretary hailed the strategy as ‘the biggest, boldest and most far-reaching roads programme for decades’, while Chancellor George Osborne said it would ‘transform some of the country’s most important strategic routes’.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury and chairman of the Cabinet Infrastructure Committee Danny Alexander said the projects would ‘help unleash the economic potential of both the regions they serve and of the overall economy.’
The boost to the A27 was hailed as a victory for commuters and businesses after a long campaign to improve the route.
The government has already announced a £69m upgrade to the Chichester bypass, and with the Worthing investment also announced today the ambition of the A27 Action Campaign is now being fulfilled.
Nick Herbert, Arundel and South Downs MP, said: ‘This is fantastic news for West Sussex. Congestion at Arundel has caused delays, forcing traffic up through this historic town and the South Downs, and damaging investment in our coastal communities.
‘I am delighted that the government has heard the strong case which we have made for a bypass which will benefit the local economy and the environment alike.’
He added: ‘There will be full public consultation about the bypass, so everyone will get their chance to have a say. However, along with all of Arundel’s elected representatives at the town, district and county council level, I continue to believe that the bypass is needed.’
According to the Department of Transport’s Feasibility Study there around 25,000 traffic movements through Arundel on the A27 every day, nearly 80 per cent of which is through traffic and not local.
Sussex Enterprise calculated that poor transport links in the county are costing £2 billion a year, or £29,000 a year for each business.
The government says that together the improvements will transform the A27 and ‘help the A27 link together as a single route, supporting the development of the local economy and removing notorious congestion hotspots’.
New projects announced in other regions today include:
:: South West - £2 billion to dual the entire A303 and A358 to the south west, including a tunnel at Stonehenge. This will allow road users to drive on a dual carriageway from London to within 15 miles of Land’s End;
:: North East - £290 million to complete the dualling of the A1 all the way from London to Ellingham, just 25 miles from the Scottish border;
:: North West and Yorkshire - Driving forward the Northern Powerhouse project by completing the smart (lane increasing) motorway along the entire length of the M62 from Manchester to Leeds, Together with improvements to transpennine capacity from Manchester to Sheffield, this represents the first increase in transpennine capacity since 1971;
:: North West - Improving links to the Port of Liverpool, as part of a plan of 12 projects designed to improve access to major international gateways;
:: East of England -: £300 million to upgrade the east-west connection to Norfolk, by dualling sections of the A47 and improving its connections to the A1 and A11;
:: Midlands: improving the M42 to the east of Birmingham, improving the connectivity to Birmingham airport, the National Exhibition Centre, the local Enterprise Zone, and pave the way for the new High Speed 2 interchange station.
In addition the strategy has more details of the already-announced plan to turn the Highways Agency into a government-owned company. The Government says this will mean funding can be allocated on a longer-term basis, saving the taxpayer at least £2.6 billion over the next 10 years.
There will also be £100 million to improve cycling provision at 200 key locations across the network, as well as a commitment to cycle-proof any new schemes being developed.
Also, there will be a £300 million environmental fund to mitigate carbon emission and reduce the number of people affected by serious noise by 250,000.
This fund will create new charge points for low-emission vehicles every 20 miles across the road network, as well as enhance the landscape, protect sites of cultural or historic heritage, and reduce the impact of improving the roads on wildlife, countryside and habitats,
In addition there will £100 million to unlock future growth and housing developments.
Spending during the next parliament on England’s roads network will be boosted further by maintenance funding worth more than £10 billion across the local and national road network,
Mr McLoughlin said: ‘Roads are key to our nation’s prosperity. For too long they have suffered from under-investment.
‘This Government has a long term plan to secure the country’s future and this £15 billion roads programme is demonstration of that. Better roads allow us to travel freely, creating jobs and opportunities, benefiting hardworking families across the country.’
Chancellor George Osborne said: ‘For years our roads have been neglected. Now that this government is fixing the economy, we can afford to invest properly in our roads - unlocking jobs for the future and local growth by creating a road network that is fit for the 21st century.’