The UK economy is in dire need of the construction of purpose-built, efficient and adequate roads to improve bakery delivery and cut the awful cost of congestion. UK transport needs more than a sticking plaster; it needs a major operation.
Following the successful experiment of running traffic on the hard shoulder of the M42 in Birmingham, the Department for Transport is to consider extending the operation to other congested motorways. All the news from the M42 trial has been good: reduced journey times; increased reliability; a reduction in accidents; and benefits to motorists, commercial vehicle operators, the environment and the economy. Yet the M42 scheme cost £100 million and has involved road strengthening, the construction of refuge lay-bys, overhead message gantries, CCTV and, key to it all, a sophisticated computer operation to determine when the ’hard shoulder running’ is turned on and off.
Using the hard shoulder can inject some quick extra capacity into an overburdened motorway network and is relatively cheap compared to the construction of new roads.
The FTA believes the experiment should be repeated elsewhere, but there are no plans for such a scheme on the M25. Instead, full-blown road widening will take place. And that is good news.