Government approves transport plans

The Government has earmarked £600 million for local authority projects and detailed plans for 16 road and public transport schemes around the country.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond announced the proposals in the House of Commons and indicated that these "essential investments" would cut congestion, improve journey times and support economic growth.

The approved schemes, which include upgrades to the M60, M1, M6 and M25, come despite Chancellor George Osborne's announcement that the Department of Transport would reduce resource spending by 21% and reduce capital spending by 11% over the next four years.

In a Commons statement, Mr Hammond confirmed that funds would be available for "sustainable upgrades to the strategic network to tackle congestion hotspots, delivering network-wide benefits that provide very high returns on investment".

He added: "I can confirm today that the eight Highways Agency major schemes currently under way will be funded to completion and opened to the public in the next two years.

"And I can today announce funding for 14 new projects to commence on site by April 2015, including the schemes announced by the Chancellor last week."

The new projects include the expansion of the A11 Fiveways, improvements to the M4 and M5 junction north of Bristol, the M6 between junctions 5 and 8 in Birmingham and the M62 between junctions 25 and 30 near Leeds.

Three improvement schemes on the M1 between Derbyshire and Wakefield, from junctions 28 to 31, 32 to 35a and 39 to 42, have also been approved, as have four schemes near Manchester, from junctions 8 to 12 and from 12 to 15 on the M60, junctions 18 to 20 on the M62, and from Knutsford and Bowden on the A556.

Finally, improvements will be made to the A23 between Handcross and Warninglid, while the completion of the upgrading of the M25, with a managed motorway scheme for the peak time hard shoulder running between junction 23 and 27 and junction 5 and 7, have also been given the go-ahead.

Mr Hammond added: "These essential investments will cut congestion, improve journey times and most importantly, support economic growth.

"Every pound we spend on these schemes will generate on average £6 of benefits."

He also revealed that seven further major local authority projects worth £300m had also been given the green light, including a new bus interchange in Mansfield, a new bypass in Sefton and an "integrated package of sustainable transport improvements" in Ipswich.

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