Last November saw the announcement of six road improvement schemes that will affect major motorways and A-roads, causing headaches in the short term but aimed at improving life for motorists in the long run.
A lot of drivers will know all about ‘managed motorways’ already. The hard shoulder is used as a running lane at peak times to provide a four-lane carriageway, and overhead signs and speed cameras enforce a lower speed limit.
Parts of the M3 and M6 have been pencilled in to be modified in this way, which is fine in principle because trials proved that the system works, reducing accidents and journey times.
There are likely to be off-peak road closures, temporary lane closures or narrow lanes, and certainly reduced speed limits for many months – as if regular motorway drivers haven’t had enough of that by now.
No extra land needs to be bought, though, so managed motorways are often a lot cheaper than building extra lanes and we acknowledge the Government’s choice.
Sometimes there is no alternative, however, especially on dual carriageways like the heavily overcrowded A14 between Cambridge and Kettering. The stretch between junctions seven and nine will be widened to three lanes.
The work is likely to turn the road, which is especially busy westbound on Friday nights and on Sunday nights going East, into a nightmare area, which in turn will strain the surrounding routes through and around the town.
The A453 between Nottingham and East Midlands Airport is being given a similar treatment and will be one to plan around if possible.
In the case of Manchester Airport, an entirely new dual carriageway is being built to link the M56 to the A6 south of Stockport, causing minimal disruption to existing routes but costing £165 million. It’s needed to fit in with the Government’s economic growth plans.
Various infamous junctions are being improved as well, like where the M6 meets the M1 and A14, which is often responsible for huge tailbacks. This is where we see the money being well spent, although once work begins the situation for drivers will get worse before it gets better.