Sorting out bottlenecks
Traffic jams will be tackled with £690m for schemes around the country, while increased powers to ease London’s congestion are to be devolved to its mayor.
The chancellor said he was launching a £690m competition for local authorities in England to address urban congestion and “get local transport networks moving again”.
Philip Hammond said he had also earmarked £90m for the north and £23m for the Midlands to eradicate pinchpoints on the national road network. The money is from the £220m for pinchpoints announced in the autumn statement, part of a bigger national productivity investment fund ringfenced for spending on infrastructure during this parliament.
Details of how the £690m will be allocated are to be announced by the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, this week. The RAC welcomed the money but warned: “We don’t want to see local authorities have to take part in an expensive, protracted process simply to have the funds they need to sort out well known bottlenecks.”
An agreement published alongside the budget confirmed that more powers would be devolved to London to tackle congestion. Average speeds in the centre of the capital fell to less than 8mph last year, while bus punctuality has declined after years of improvement. It said an independent study would be carried out to identify the reasons for increased congestion, which are thought to include roadworks and increasing numbers of private hire and delivery vehicles. The mayor may be given more powers to charge utility firms and others carrying out disruptive works.
Claire Haigh, chief executive of Greener Journeys, said: “Congestion is strangling towns and cities across the UK, bringing urban centres to a standstill and costing the economy more than £13bn each year. We are delighted the chancellor has acknowledged the severity of this problem.”
She said investment in bus priority measures and infrastructure could best ease congestion and reduce roadside emissions, but the government “must have the courage to confront the root cause of the issue – rising car use”. Gwyn Topham