Sustrans has branded the government ‘short sighted’ following the announcement that £24 billion has been set aside to undertake the largest road building programme since the 1970s.
With works set to be undertaken between now and 2021, the Government is expected to be spending £3 billion annually on maintenance and repairs by the end of the next Parliament.
Transport minister Robert Goodwill said: "We need to make sure we have the right people and equipment in place to deliver the 53 road schemes in preparation right now, plus the next generation of improvements over the next 7 years. This means taking on more apprentices and making sure suppliers have the capacity to deal with the increase in demand. If we get this right, this will provide road users with a high performing network that can cope with the expected 43 per cent increase in traffic over the coming decades that will help boost economy growth and deliver more efficient roads for motorists."
With no mention of improvements for other road users, Jason Torrance, director of policy for charity Sustrans blasted the plans, stating: “The Infrastructure Bill condemns the people of Britain to a downwards spiral of increasing traffic and pollution by paving the way for £24 billion to be spent in this Parliament and next on roads.”
“Investment in giving people real choice in the way they get around would be a far better.’
“Short sighted expansion of major roads is robbing our children of their future; when Government should be focusing on the safety of everyday local roads. This will encourage our kids to get outside and be more active for the benefit of their health and their environment.’
“Preventing current levels of child pedestrian/cyclist casualties would be worth £515 million per year, £200m on the school journey alone. This would also deliver significant savings in emergency admissions and healthcare costs.’
“A fraction of the £24 billion planned to be spent on roads would, if properly invested, transform public transport walking and cycling, making it possible for people to make real travel choices and improve their health and our economy.”
There is a silver lining to the otherwise grim reading, in that £6 billion of the funding is to be spent on tackling potholes on local authority roads.