20-year motorway vision wants to put region in fast lane for growth
A two-decade vision to ease congestion and help unlock investment in sites across the Midlands has been unveiled today as part of a detailed analysis of the region’s motorway network.
Transport body Midlands Connect has set out 10 recommendations it believes will improve the Midlands Motorway Hub and “get the country moving faster”.
The report’s analysis found that delivering the recommendations could unlock up to 50,000 new jobs at key locations near to the hub and support the construction of 50,000 homes.
Maria Machancoses, director at Midlands Connect, said: “This long term plan shows the Midlands needs a strategic solution for its road network, not a quick fix.
“There is no ‘silver bullet’ solution to fixing congestion; the recommendations outlined in this report are a bold statement of intent as to what is required to make the Midlands’ motorway network fit for purpose.”
The vision is built around four routes – making the best use of existing networks, encouraging the use of public transport, major investment to significantly improve infrastructure, and identify alternative routes.
Network planning director for Highways England, Jeremy Bloom said: “We recognise that the network in the Midlands suffers from extensive congestion and agree that a vision for the future will help us to develop an investment strategy that solves the problems over the longer term.
“Clearly this won’t happen overnight but this report provides us with the foundation to plan improvements over the next two decades. We are committed to working closely with Midlands Connect to make this a reality.”
Midlands Connect believes a western strategic route, linking the M5 and the M6 through the Black Country, offers the biggest benefit for improving journey times and resilience.
Although a specific route has not been identified, it suggests it could have “a transformational impact on the economic performance of the Black Country” and connect up to 45,000 new homes in proposed garden villages. Further research this year will examine the economic and social benefits that could be realised.
A second strategic alternative to the existing motorway network could see the A46, part of which runs from Tewkesbury to the M69, could be upgraded to expressway standard and help ease the pressure on the M42.
Relatively quick fixes it identifies include improving time savings signage on the M6 and encouraging more drivers to use the M6 Toll, especially when there are problems on the M6.
It also wants to extend the use of smart motorways – between junctions 12 and 16 on the M40 and from junction 2 on the M6 to the M1 – and examine the benefits of converting the M42’s hard shoulder to a lane for traffic.
The key recommendations proposed are:
1. Estimated time savings signage on the M6 to encourage better use of the M6 Toll during incidents and peak times.
2. Identifying opportunities for a Strategic Park and Ride scheme as an alternative to short motorway journeys
3. Examining the economic case for a Western Strategic Route linking M5/M6
4. Widening the M42 from Junction 3A to Junction 7
5. Creating an A46 Expressway
6. Further enhancements on M42 Junction 6
7. Targeted improvements on M6 Junction 2, 3 and 4
8. Ramp metering (installing traffic lights) on M5 at Junction 1 and Junction 2
9. Developing a smart motorway on M6, M1 to Junction 2.
10. Test the potential for an HGV Platooning trial in the Midlands.