New road developments are increasing traffic levels not relieving them, a new study has revealed.
Recent road developments have encouraged more people to get out on the road, and have put greater pressure on existing routes, the research by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has found.
It also revealed that roads which had been in place the longest attracted the most traffic. Schemes which were completed eight to 20 years ago returned a 47 per cent increase in traffic when compared to those completed three to seven years ago, which returned a seven per cent increase in traffic.
The report stated: “The most common justification for roadbuilding was that more road capacity would reduce congestion. The new research shows the opposite to be the case.”
Ralph Smyth, head of infrastructure and legal at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “The government is keen to sell the biggest road-building programme since the 1970s, but this is a programme that will forever fail on its own terms, producing a depressing, self-perpetuating cycle of more and more roads that do little for the economy and harm the countryside.
“This landmark research shows that any benefits from road building are far smaller than thought but the harm much worse. The Road Investment Strategy needs to be reset – not receive three times more funding.”
The research looks at questioning Highways England’s continued funding into road building, which is set to triple to £3 billion a year by 2020.
A spokesperson for Highways England said: “The strategic road network is vital to the success of the UK economy; we simply cannot operate without moving people, materials and goods around by road.
“The improvements we are delivering will ensure our roads continue to operate safely, efficiently and effectively, and are capable of meeting the demands placed upon them in a sustainable manner.
“Our programme also focuses on upgrading the current network, and includes a set of ring-fenced funds to deliver benefits that are important to customers and communities in addition to a safe, reliable network.”
Smyth thought that rather than going backwards, the government should “invest in a forward looking mobility strategy,” and re-open old rail lines to give people additional travel options while ensuring that it utilises areas of brownfield rather than building on fields and open spaces.