The government has announced a freeze on fuel duty in today's autumn statement alongside a £15 billion investment into improving the capacity and condition of the nation’s roads.
Chancellor George Osbourne said fuel duty will remain frozen for the remainder of this parliament, saving the average motorist £11 every time they fill their tank, the government claims, resulting in a saving of £680 for the typical motorist by 2015-16.
The £15bn road investment scheme, entitled ‘Road Investment Strategy’ centres on more than 100 new road improvements schemes that will take place over this parliament and the next.
A total of more than 1300 new lane miles will be added via the schemes, which will address traffic black-spots such as the A303 at Stonehenge and the remaining single-lane sections of the A1.
The news was first announced to Parliament on Monday by transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin and chief secretary to the treasury Danny Alexander.
McLoughlin said the plan is “the biggest, boldest and most far-reaching roads programme for decades. It will dramatically improve our road network and unlock Britain’s economic potential.
“Roads are key to our nation’s prosperity. For too long they have suffered from under-investment.
“This government has a long-term plan to secure the country’s future and this £15bn roads programme is demonstration of that. Better roads allow us to travel freely, creating jobs and opportunities, benefiting hardworking families across the country.”
New projects include a commitment of £2bn to dual the entire A303 and A358 to the south west, including a tunnel at Stonehenge. This will allow roads users to drive on a dual carriageway from London to within 15 miles of Land’s End.
About £290m will be set aside to complete the dualling of the A1 all the way from London to Ellingham, 25 miles from the Scottish border.
The entire length of the M62 from Manchester to Leeds will be turned into a ‘smart motorway’, where the hard shoulder can be used as a lane of traffic.
In the south east, the A27 will benefit from £350m of improvements aimed at alleviating congestion at Arundel, Worthing and Lewes.
No less than £300m will go towards upgrading the east-west connection to Norfolk, by dualling sections of the A47 and improving its connections to the A1 and recently-upgraded A11.
Some of the 100 projects had been announced previously, but the government claims 84 of them are new. It estimates that more than 6200 construction jobs will be created around the country during the road-building scheme.
Opposition figures have questioned where the funding will come from. Similarly ambitious road schemes announced in the past – most notably the Roads for Prosperity program of 1989 – were later abandoned because of a shortfall of funds and widespread public opposition.