Motoring in Britain can be one of life’s great pleasures. From the wide skies of Lincolnshire to the mountains of the Lake District; whether by car or motorcycle, there are few things more agreeable than the joy of exploring our blessed plot.
But for too long, too often driving has been like a trip to the dentist – a necessary endurance.
Potholes, seemingly endless miles of road works, and traffic jams have limited or eliminated enjoyment.
Congestion on Britain’s motorways and A-roads (collectively known as the Strategic Road Network) is estimated to cost the economy over £2 billion each year, not including the cost of appointments missed, family gatherings abandoned and uneaten cold dinners, all familiar to regular road travellers locally in Lincolnshire and beyond.
As our population grows over the coming years, if we do nothing, delays and their miserable effect will become even worse.
The problems with our road network have developed for two principle reasons. First, there have been decades of under investment; between 1970 and 2010 traffic on our major roads tripled while investment more than halved!
Secondly, the money that was made available was often misdirected or spent inefficiently. These difficulties have been compounded by investment stopping and starting more often than a tube train on the circle line. Brief periods of plenty followed by years of financial famine encouraged short-termism and one-off projects, rather than prioritising a long-term approach to the whole network.
Most drivers who have encountered a dual carriageway that suddenly ends at its busiest point will recognise the result of what I describe.
As the nation’s new Minister for Roads across the United Kingdom, I am determined that the failure to plan ahead, resource sufficiently, and maintain consistency must end.
I want all who those who use Britain’s major roads and motorways to enjoy much more reliable, safe and joyful journeys.
That’s why I have made a gear change in investment; the Government has committed to invest £24 billion on the road network by 2021, which will see spending tripled to £3 billion each year on England’s key highways and motorways, including resurfacing of 80% of these roads.
This should mean a much better road network; road works will be completed quicker, traffic flowing more smoothly more often and fewer damaging potholes to avoid; inspiring confidence in travellers and restoring the joy of motoring.