An extra £100 million is to be invested in local roads to help “boost” the economy in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. That was the message issued by Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week, as he announced a cash injection for the UK’s transport infrastructure once lockdown has been lifted.
The money will be split between a total of 29 projects, including schemes to fix roads falling into disrepair and flood mitigation measures. Some plans, meanwhile, involve repairing bridges on key routes, while others will see arterial A-roads upgraded to cope with higher volumes of traffic.
Among the schemes to receive funding are upgrades to the A38 in Somerset and the A58 north of Manchester, while £5 million will be spent on the Swanswell Viaduct viaduct in Coventry. The same sum will be spent on a plan to make major routes in Liverpool “more resilient”, while £4.5 million will be spent on the A15, which runs from Cambridgeshire to the East Riding of Yorkshire, passing Peterborough, Lincoln and Scunthorpe as it goes.
Other plans to benefit from the government’s funding include the £4.9 million improvements to pedestrian infrastructure in Sheffield. Heralded as part of the government’s commitment to improve access to “active travel”, the money will be spent replacing “poor-quality footways”.
The news comes alongside £7.1 billion that is being allocated to English highway authorities outside London for highways maintenance from 2015 to 2021. This money, the government claims, will help authorities keep their roads and other assets, such as bridges and viaducts, in good condition.
It also comes alongside news of a major investment in rail travel, with £10 million of “design and development funding” issued to Network Rail. The now-government-owned organisation is being asked to use the cash to look into ways to “resolve capacity and reliability problems” on the network in and around Manchester.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the government’s spending on roads would help to restart the economy as the coronavirus lockdown is lifted.
“As the country begins the recovery from COVID-19, we need to get on the front foot and invest in infrastructure in every region to reignite the economy, helping better connect people with opportunities in the future,” he said. “By investing £100 million in local roads and reaffirming our commitment to better connecting communities, we are not just talking about levelling up – but making it happen.”