The UK government has announced four schemes in Newcastle, Cornwall, Greater Manchester and Southampton, which they claim will generate an estimated £659.3m in economic benefits for the regions through improved investment, new housing and employment opportunities.
The road and bridge schemes aim to level up infrastructure across the country, helping local economies thrive through bolstered employment opportunities, new housing developments and improving connectivity to incentivise business investment.
The four major road schemes, backed by a total of £160.8m investment, include:
- £78.5m for a new 3.85 mile (6.2 kilometre) road linking St Austell to the A30 – the main transport artery in Cornwall, creating 6,300 new local jobs – the scheme will generate almost £112m in wider economic benefits through reduced journey times, increased investment in the local area and better opportunities for clean travel thanks to a new shared pedestrian and cycle facility running alongside the whole length of the new road.
- £35.3m for essential maintenance to the Tyne Bridge and adjacent Central Motorway, including improvements to traffic management and cycle route facilities – the repairs will generate £130.5m in economic benefits by improving local connectivity, tackling congestion and poor air quality as they will avoid the rerouting of HGVs through residential areas.
- £33.6m to enhance walking and cycling accessibility and tackle congestion across the A34 between Greater Manchester and Stockport – with estimated economic benefits of £76.8m, the scheme will support the development of more than 2,500 new homes and 33.3 hectares of employment space, while boosting transport links to Manchester Airport and HS2.
- £13.4m for essential maintenance to the A35 Redbridge Causeway – a vital link between New Forest, Southampton and its port – the scheme is estimated to be very high value for money and will generate almost £340m worth of direct economic benefits through better connectivity, improved employment and housing opportunities and the expansion of the Port of Southampton.
Roads minister Baroness Vere said: “We are committed to delivering world-class infrastructure across all parts of the country which supports local economies to thrive. This £160.8m investment will level up those opportunities from the north east to the south west, while giving motorists, cyclists and pedestrians the modern, safe and uncongested roads they deserve.
“These schemes also present yet another important stepping stone towards cutting emissions and building a clean, efficient road network that is truly accessible to all. These schemes will also boost green travel opportunities through upgraded lanes and paths for cyclists and pedestrians to support low-emission, active travel, working towards the country’s net zero goals.”
Martin McTague, national chair of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: “Investment in local infrastructure projects is vital to improving connectivity across the country, reducing congestion and upgrading the roads that small businesses use on a day to day basis. Small firms and sole traders rely heavily on road networks to be accessible, efficient and safe. They are also looking to reduce environmental impact and improve the air quality in their local community – and so embrace green travel options when they are available. Our economic recovery relies on a solid transport system and this latest investment is a positive step in the right direction.”