A-road expressway plans unveiled

Traffic lights and roundabouts are set to be removed from certain A-roads as part of a scheme to create European-style expressways.

The plans are intended to reduce congestion on some of the busiest A-roads in the UK. Junctions will be improved and roundabouts and traffic lights removed to ease traffic flow.

Highways England, a new government-owned company which replaces the Highways Agency from April 1, will carry out the upgrades, as part of an £11 billion investment program.

Among the first roads to be brought up to the new standard include the A303 and A30 between the M3 in Hampshire and Devon; the A1 north of Newcastle; the A14 from Huntingdon to Cambridge; the A556 between the M56 and M6 near Manchester; and the A46 between the M1 just north of Leicester and the A1 at Newark.

Other subsequent schemes could include the A27 along the south coast of England; the A2 from London to Kent and the A3 between Guildford and Portsmouth.

Technology similar to that on so-called smart motorways will be used to detect any incidents and co-ordinate with emergency services and highway patrols to clear them as quickly as possible.

The new roads may also be subject to motorway rules, excluding slow-moving vehicles such as tractors and mopeds that are usually allowed on dual-carriageway A-roads.

RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: “The provision for new expressway schemes has the potential to transform some of the country’s most congested and frustrating roads. However, motorists will want to know such multi-billion pound projects have been fully budgeted for if they are to believe that they will become a reality, rather than just an empty promise.

“The devil of the new proposals will be in the detail – what rules will apply to these new types of highway? And how will they be designed in a way that is safe for motorists? A clear national standard on their operation will need to be looked at,” he added.

In Europe, the Netherlands, Italy, Czech Republic and Bulgaria have already implemented similar changes to their trunk road systems.

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