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£5.5BN PACKAGE OF TRANSPORT IMPROVEMENTS

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A£5.5bn package of major national and local transport measures which...
A£5.5bn package of major national and local transport measures which

will tackle congestion, improve safety and reliability, and increase

the quality of life was unveiled today by secretary of state for

transport, Alistair Darling.

The improvements tackle some of the country's most serious transport

problems and include significant improvements to the M1, M4, M5, and

the M6 - as well as new proposals to protect the World Heritage Site

of Stonehenge alongside the A303 in Wiltshire.

Nineteen major new local transport schemes - including light rail

services, new public transport interchanges, dedicated bus corridors,

town centre accessibility improvements, and local road improvements -

have also been given the go-ahead, subject to necessary statutory

procedures.

Alistair Darling said:

'Today's major package of transport improvements will bring real

benefits. From the major motorways which are the nation's arteries to

the local bus and cycle routes many of us rely on, we are seeing real

progress being made - tackling congestion, improving safety and

reliability and increasing the quality of life.

'We are committed to putting right decades of under-investment.

Nationally, by improving the strategic road network - widening parts

of the M6 and M1 - and accelerating the work on the West Coast Main

Line, we are transforming major transport corridors in the country to

bring real benefits for decades to come. Locally, by providing the

funds for councils to deliver the vital transport improvements that

local people want.

'The World Heritage Site at Stonehenge will be enhanced and protected

by putting the existing road in a bored tunnel, which will improve

safety and congestion and minimise traffic disruption during the

construction of the tunnel.'

Alistair Darling today gave the green light to schemes which will:

Tackle congestion:

- plans to widen the M6 between Manchester and Birmingham from three

to four lanes (between junctions 19 and 11a) together with junction

improvements, safety and traffic management measures;

- plans to widen the M1 in the East Midlands generally to 4 lanes

(between junctions 21 and 30) together with junction improvements,

safety and traffic management measures;

- provision of climbing lanes for HGVs and junction improvements on

sections of the M4 and M5 near Bristol;

- plans to improve the A453 from the M1 to Nottingham;

- go-ahead for junction improvements on the A419 Commonhead junction

near Swindon

- up to 1,600 traffic management schemes and over 400 new or

improved road junctions;

- up to 55 new or extended park and ride schemes;

Improve safety and reliability:

- completing dualling of the A1 between Morpeth and Alnwick;

- dualling most of the remaining single carriageway on the A303 and

improving sections of the A30 west of Exeter;

- confirmation of funding approval for extensions to Metrolink, the

tram system in Manchester;

- approval in principle, subject to statutory procedures, of plans

to develop Merseytram, a major new light rail line in Liverpool;

- bus priority measures in Middlesbrough, Wokingham and Walsall;

- around 5,500 local road safety and traffic calming schemes,

including 900 projects involving new lighting or CCTV and around 900

safe routes to school schemes;

- over 1000 km of cycle tracks and lanes and over 1,750 new cycle

parking facilities, such as stands and lockers.

Aid quality of life:

- a£183m 2.1 kilometre bored tunnel option for the upgrade of the

A303 past Stonehenge - protecting the World Heritage Site from heavy

traffic and facilitating the development of a new visitor centre;

- approval for bypasses of Reighton in North Yorkshire and Ashton in

Tameside and on the A69 at Haydon Bridge in Northumberland, the A228

at Leybourne in Kent;

- £600m for local maintenance for local authorities.

- new bus stations in Norwich, North Manchester business park and

Warrington;

- up to 200 km of new footpaths, footway improvements or

pedestrianisation and around 3,500 new or improved road crossings;

- improved pedestrian and cyclist access in Nottingham,

Middlesbrough, Walsall, Warrington, Norwich and Wokingham;

- the award of over£550,000 to 14 pilot schemes that promote the

development of personalised travel planning schemes to help people to

make more environmentally friendly travel choices.

Total allocations for this year to local authorities to spend on

major schemes, smaller local schemes and maintenance is£1.6bn.

This will be distributed as:

North-East £101m

Yorkshire & the Humber £166m

North-West £297m

East Midlands £129m

West Midlands £177m

South-West £151m

Eastern £145m

South-East £195m

£230m will be retained for allocation throughout the year as

other schemes are approved.

Notes

Today's announcement covers:

The government's response to five Multi-Modal Studies:

West Midlands to the North West (Midman)

North/South Movements in the East Midlands (M1MMS)

London to the South West and South Wales (SWARMMS)

A1 North of Newcastle (A1MMS)

A453 from M1 (Junction 24) to Nottingham (A453 MMS)

Local transport allocations for 2003/04 to local authorities outside

London.

Provisional approval for 19 local transport major schemes (each

costing more than£5m) including the Merseytram light rail scheme in

Liverpool.

Confirmation of funding approval for a third phase of Manchester

Metrolink system providing three new lines linking Oldham and

Rochdale, Ashton-under-Lyne, and Manchester Airport to the city

centre.

The allocation of£586,000 allocated to 14 projects across eight

regions put forward by local traffic authorities and passenger

transport executives to provide tailored information on alternative

forms of transport for people wanting to reduce their car travel.

Implementation of all infrastructure schemes included in the

announcement is subject to the successful completion of all necessary

consultation and statutory procedures (where this has not already

been achieved).

Multi-Modal Studies

The five Multi-Modal Studies listed in paragraph 1 make

recommendations for improvements to the following transport

corridors:

- the M6 corridor between the west Midlands and north-west

- the M1 corridor in the east Midlands

- routes to the south-west

- the A1 to the north of Newcastle

- the A453 corridor from the M1 to Nottingham

The government's response to the recommendations from these studies

are set out in letters which have been sent by John Spellar to

regional planning bodies.

Targeted Programme of Improvements

As a result of the London to the South West and South Wales (SWARMMS)

and other decisions announced today the following major road schemes

are being added to the government's targeted programme of

improvements:

- Grade separation of the A419 Commonhead Junction near Swindon;

- A bypass of the village of Haydon Bridge on the A69 in

Northumberland;

- Four schemes on the M4 and M5 around Bristol designed to deal with

congestion blackspots:

- M4 Junction 18 Eastbound Diverge;

- M5 Junction 17 to 18A Northbound Climbing Lane (Hallen Hill);

- M5 Junction 19 to 20 Southbound Climbing Lane (Naish Hill); and

- M5 Junction 19 to 20 Northbound Climbing Lane (Tickenham Hill).

In addition the standard of the tunnel for the A303 Stonehenge scheme

will now be a 2.1 km bored tunnel which will protect the World

Heritage Site from heavy traffic and facilitating the development of

a new visitor centre.

Local Transport settlement

In 2000, local authorities in England (outside London) were given

indicative funding allocations for integrated transport and

maintenance measures for each year to 2005/06. Today's announcement

provides authorities with firm allocations for 2003/04 and explains

how the£1.6bn package (which also includes funding for major

schemes) will be spent.

Local Transport Plans (LTPs), which were submitted in 2000 by all

English local transport authorities outside London, contained an

integrated transport strategy for their area and a costed programme

of measures to improve local transport over the period 2001-02 to

2005-06 through:

- integrated transport schemes (eg measures to improve local

transport and reduce congestion, promote cycling, walking and road

safety);

- local road maintenance and bridge strengthening schemes; and

- major public transport and road schemes costing over£5m

(e.g. integrated town centre improvements, new bus corridors, light

rail and local road schemes).

Authorities submitted 42 bids for major schemes to be considered as

part of this year's settlement.

All major schemes are appraised in accordance with the government's

New Approach to Appraisal (NATA), under which the scheme is assessed

against the government's five criteria of safety, environment,

accessibility, economy and integration. As part of the processlocal

authorities are required to consult the government's statutory

advisers (Environment Agency, English Nature, Countryside Agency,

English Heritage). In addition, DfT has separately consulted the

statutory bodies on all the major schemes. Local authorities will

continue to liaise with statutory bodies throughout the further

detailed design stages of their major schemes.

The majority of the funding for small schemes and maintenance will be

allocated as part of transport's contribution to the cross-service

Single Capital Pot. Authorities will be able to spend it in

accordance with their local priorities and the objectives and

strategies contained in their LTPs.£58m of the funding will be

distributed as part of the 'discretionary element' of the Single

Capital Pot. An announcement on the Single Capital Pot as a whole

including distribution of the 'discretionary element' is being made

by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister today.

Funding held back as reserves will be released to authorities as

schemes complete the necessary statutory procedures. Other funds in

the reserve will be held back pending further justification of bids

from authorities and as a contingency reserve.

Different arrangements apply in London where it is for the mayor to

decide allocations for authorities. Allocations for London boroughs

for 2003/04 were announced on 15 October.

Full details of individual Local Authority LTP allocations can be

found here.

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