Headlines: June 25th, 2009

A campaign group says new research which it is publishing today counters the case for building more roads because proposed new routes are running over budget and that they are unlikely to solve traffic problems even if they go ahead.

The Campaign for Better Transport is revealing Government figures it has been given in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. These show that the Highways Agency’s road building programme is significantly over budget and the Campaign says cost increases and expected cutbacks in public spending mean that it is highly likely that many of the schemes will not be built.

The request revealed that 12 of the 16 roads opened in the last year were more expensive than expected. They were 54 per cent over budget while the overall programme, roads under construction and those still in the planning stages as well as completed schemes could be as much as 3.9 billion pounds over budget.

The CBT also points out that publication of the information coincides with a Highways Agency report which found that the majority of bypasses have considerably more traffic on them than expected. The report also found that forecasting economic benefits was generally not accurate and that roads tended to cost more than predicted.

CBT’s roads and climate campaigner, Richard George, said: “We need to improve transport but pouring money into this black hole isn’t the way to do that. Rising costs and shrinking budgets means that some of these roads will never get built, so the Government should accept that we cannot build our way out of congestion, cancel some of these over-priced schemes and invest the money instead in decent and affordable public transport to give us an alternative to traffic jams and gridlock.”