The government-run company in charge of England’s motorways has announced plans to lift or complete 900 miles of roadworks before Christmas. National Highways says the move is designed to reduce disruption and ease traffic on major routes between Tuesday, December 21 and Tuesday, January 4.

According to National Highways, 98 percent of ongoing roadworks on the strategic road network, which includes motorways and major A-roads will either be lifted or completed by 6am on Tuesday, December 21. The roadworks being lifted on that date will not restart until 12.01am on Tuesday, January 4, leaving the roads clear for Christmas.

However, some schemes, including the closure of the M42 motorway between junctions 9 and 10, will continue over the festive period. National Highways says a diversion will be in place over the holidays to help drivers avoid the area.

UK roadworks cones and directional signs on motorway

“We don’t want roadworks to spoil Christmas so we’re doing everything we can to make journeys as smooth as possible,” said National Highways’ customer service director. “That’s why we’re keeping almost 98 percent of the road network we manage free from roadworks. Our dedicated control room teams and traffic officer patrols are geared up to help those travelling over the Christmas period and we’re expecting Thursday 23 December to be one of the busier days in the lead up to the festive period.

“We know from experience that peak travel times can vary in the run up to Christmas, and so we’re encouraging drivers to check traffic conditions before heading out to help keep traffic flowing. And we’re also asking motorists to be prepared before setting off. Almost half of breakdowns can be easily avoided if motorists carry out simple vehicle checks before their journeys.”

UK motorway roadworks on A1(M)

In particular, those checks include ensuring the vehicle has enough fuel for the journey, checking the engine oil and tyres, and checking the car’s lights. National Highways also suggests ensuring there’s enough water in the washer bottle to clear the windscreen of the grime that’s often found on the roads at this time of year.

The news comes as the RAC and data company Inrix revealed this Christmas is expected to be the busiest getaway on UK roads in five years, with an estimated 27 million leisure trips by car predicted between Friday, December 17 and Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve itself is being dubbed ‘Frantic Festive Friday’ with around 5.3 million car journeys expected.

That prediction was made in spite of concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and the new variant, which is spreading rapidly. Although the government has imposed its ‘Plan B’ measures, including more mandatory mask-wearing, fewer Covid-19-related restrictions are expected this Christmas, and the RAC says drivers are planning to take advantage of that.