Plans to build new road tunnels under the River Thames and near Stonehenge will benefit from a £27.4 billion Government funding package, Highways England has said.
Some £14 billion will be used to improve the “quality, capacity and safety” of motorways and major A roads, while £11 billion will be allocated to repairing the existing network, the company said.
This will include the resurfacing of nearly 5,000 “lane miles” of road, the installation or renewal of more than 1,000 miles of safety barriers, and improvements to approximately 170 bridges and other road structures.
Highways England, which is responsible for maintaining and improving the country’s motorways and A roads, said the funding will also bring forward a number of its “flagship” projects, including the Lower Thames Crossing.
The proposed route will feature a 2.6-mile (4.3km) road tunnel running beneath the Thames, east of Gravesend, which will connect to the M2 near Rochester in Kent and the M25 in Essex between north and south Ockenden.
The money will also be used for the creation of the new A303 Stonehenge tunnel, to the south of the world heritage site in Wiltshire.
However the proposed scheme is currently on hold following a review by the Secretary of State for Transport, who is expected to make a decision in November on whether it should go ahead.
Highways England chief executive Jim O’Sullivan said: “Over the next five years we will increase capacity where it is most needed and continue to upgrade more of the network which has suffered from decades of under-investment.”
He added: “The plan we’re launching today will protect and create jobs to aid the nation’s recovery, and make journeys faster and more reliable for freight and road users.”
The Government announced the £27.4 billion funding package in March as part of its Road Investment Strategy 2, which covers a five-year period to 2025.
We're investing £27.4 billion in our network from 2020 – 2025. This will be balanced across enhancement schemes and operating, maintaining and renewing our roads. We have a programme to keep the country moving, connecting businesses, families and friends.https://t.co/la3Jawn5iC pic.twitter.com/unwMKNpKPc
— Highways England (@HighwaysEngland) August 21, 2020
Highways England said its plans on how the money will be allocated will help support 64,000 construction industry jobs.
Other projects to benefit include the dualling of the A66 between the M6 at Penrith, in Cumbria and the A1 at Scotch Corner, Highways England said.
A series of “major upgrades” will also see increased capacity on the A19 in Sunderland and improved journey times on the A38 through a scheme to alter the junctions around Derby.
Up to £400 million will also be spent on replacing ageing concrete sections on the A14, M5, M18, M20, M42, M54 and M56.
Some £1.4 billion has already been spent on improvements along the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon, while an extra £1 billion will be invested in “broader projects” across the overall road network to strengthen food resilience and improve access for walkers and cyclists.
Highways England said it would also be “laying the foundations” to enable two-way communication between roadside infrastructure and in-car devices.
Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: “As the country and economy gets back on the move, England’s roads more than ever need to be fit for purpose.
“Road users will welcome this investment, but the roadworks needed to deliver it must be managed to minimise the impact on people’s journeys.”