DfT allocates £161m to keep traffic flowing

Ministers have committed £160.8m to four major road and bridge schemes on the local road network in England.

Three of the schemes are under the Major Road Network (MRN), with the other classified as a Large Local Major. Both funding streams fall under the National Roads Fund (MRF), which was previously said to be funded by hypothecated Vehicle Excise Duty but is now facing severe cuts.

The schemes include two bridge maintenance projects, with £35.3m for essential maintenance to the Tyne Bridge in Newcastle and the adjacent Central Motorway and £13.4m for essential maintenance to the A35 Redbridge Causeway, which connects Southampton to the New Forest.

Newcastle City Council leader Nick Kemp (pictured) said: ‘Our much-loved bridge, which is a symbol of home for Geordies all over the world, will soon be shining proudly in the Newcastle skyline once again.

‘This funding is not simply for repainting but is a complete refurbishment of the bridge that will involve exploring innovative and environmental approaches in this work.’

There is also £78.5m for a new 3.85-mile road linking St Austell to the A30 and £33.6m to enhance walking and cycling accessibility and tackle congestion across the A34 between Greater Manchester and Stockport.

Roads minister Baroness Vere said: ‘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.’

The Department for Transport (DfT) claimed that the four schemes would generate an estimated £659.3m in economic benefits, which appears to include avoiding the costs that would be incurred by not carrying out essential maintenance on the two bridges.

Officials cited benefits of £130.5m for the Tyne Bridge scheme by avoiding the rerouting of HGVs through residential areas and almost £340m for the Southampton scheme ‘through better connectivity, improved employment and housing opportunities and the expansion of the Port of Southampton’.

The announcement comprised a series of new announcements and re-announcements as local authority bids.

The St Austell link road is the only Large Local Major in the package. Government funding for the scheme, first announced in 2017, predates the NRF, while MRN cash for the A35 Redbridge Causeway was announced last year.

In February 2020, the DfT awarded Stockport MBC a grant to develop a business case for MRN funding for its A34 Corridor Improvement Plan.

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