£244m to improve roads and boost connections across the North West

The Government is investing £244m in road improvements across the North West region.

It said drivers, cyclists and pedestrians beginning to return to streets across the North West will benefit from the investment to make journeys quicker, smoother and safer.

Hundreds of millions of pounds-worth of upgrades have already been made to the nation’s road and rail networks during the lockdown period, with more planned over the coming weeks and months.

A £1.7bn Transport Infrastructure Investment Fund will help every area in England outside London to improve its roads, repair bridges and fill in millions of potholes.

Two weeks ago Highways England announced a series of maintenance schemes along a 28-mile-stretch of the M56, connecting Manchester with Wales, during the next 12 months worth £12m.

This latest package of improvements will target around 1.5 million nuisance potholes across the North West alone.

It will also see smaller improvements completed to upgrade local networks, such as enhancing road safety at key locations, the installation of priority bus lanes and the creation of projects to help lock-in improvements in air quality experienced during lockdown.

Roads Minister Baroness Vere said: “It is vital that we continue to stay at home and only travel when it is essential to do so, but as people slowly begin to return to our roads over the coming weeks and months, we want to ensure they are in the best shape possible.

“The funding we are allocating will help make journeys smoother, quicker and safer for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.”

The £1.7bn is being automatically allocated based on the length of local authorities’ roads, helping to reduce pressures on staff at this crucial time by removing the need to apply manually for funding.

The Government is also accelerating more than £175- worth of work during the quieter period across the road and rail network while people follow guidance to avoid unnecessary travel.

In addition, councils across the North West have taken advantage of the quiet periods on the roads to safely carry out key works – including Cumbria County Council which has replaced the 250-year-old Pooley Bridge that collapsed during the winter floods of 2015/16.

The bridge is expected to be completed and opened to all road users in July, and is the first stainless steel road bridge in the UK.

Blackpool Council has also been continuing with works, including a reconstruction scheme in the town centre using an innovative approach to the design and build using recycled products.

This comes after the Transport Secretary last week announced £2bn in funding to boost more sustainable greener travel and encourage more people to begin cycling and walking.