Enterprise M3 has backed Government plans to invest in the region’s roads and sustainable transport to “open up new labour markets and increase employment”, and to benefit the entire country’s economy.
The Local Enterprise Partnership’s Head of Transport, Kevin Travers, commented after Highways England said that to take traffic off the M25, it would look to improve local road networks and public transport solutions around the motorway.
Speaking at the Civil Engineering Contractors Association conference in London on December 4, Highways England network planning director, Jeremy Bloom, said a High Wycombe to Guildford corridor was of particular interest.
Kevin Travers, Head of Transport, Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “We are pleased that Highways England are looking at ways in which congestion in the M25 SW quadrant can be eased as a number of studies, including our own joint study with neighbouring LEPs, have provided irrefutable evidence that businesses in this region as well as the national economy would be significantly better off if key transport corridors across the south of England were improved.
“The Government needs to commit to spending on infrastructure in the south-east. Improved transport links would enhance movements between these major areas of wealth production, open up new labour markets and increase employment and boost productivity. If we do nothing, the very high levels of usage of the area’s transport system will cause increasing amounts of delay and congestion and act as a block to economic growth.”
Mr Bloom was speaking in the context of ongoing work on the M25 South West Quadrant Strategic Study, which aims to keep the M25 moving efficiently and use innovation and technology to deliver a step change in travel choices. The study has already ruled out widening the M25, itself.
Mr Bloom said: “M25 SW quadrant has been quite a difficult one. The M25 on the west side of London is probably the most congested and the most difficult part of the strategic road network. Anyone that has tried to drive it knows how difficult it is for most of the day, and we have looked at it in depth but the conclusion from the study is that while we can make the most of and maximise the use of the existing infrastructure, widening within the existing corridor is probably not the right solution. It’s quite an urban area and it would just suck in more traffic.
“So the decision was taken that we would look outside of the existing M25 corridor to solve the problems on the M25. We have been doing some work, a study looking at alternative strategic corridors to take traffic off the M25 and a parallel study to investigate the potential for improvements in the local road network and also public transport.
“From an SRN perspective we have looked specifically at two corridors and there does appear to be merit in a High Wycombe to Guildford corridor, where there are existing routes at the moment, but to make that really viable there would need to be significant investment over a period of time to create a much more attractive route.
“There does appear to be a viable argument to do that but we cannot conclude the study yet, we have to look at how we bring the multimodal, the local and the SRN packages together and I think it will be something that would be difficult to achieve particularly in the shorter term. But it does have the potential to be phased over a number of RIS periods and to tackle it in sections.”