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Motorway speeds of 40mph are now normal

By raccars Published

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The chief executive of the Highways Agency has said that speeds on Britain’s motorways are becoming ‘more predictable, but slower and slower.’ Graham Dalton admitted that, 'If you’re driving down the M6 to come to work in Birmingham every morning, we've got to the point where 50mph or 40mph is acceptable, and the target is to make it 40mph every weekday morning.' The comments were said by an opposition spokesman to be evidence that the decision in the early years of the Coalition Government, to slash spending on road infrastructure, now meant that the Highways Agency could only manage congestion instead of investing in upgrading the road network. Countering that argument, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, stated that the Government was committed to spending £28 billion on improving the road network between 2014 and 2020.

Mr Dalton suggested that the Highways Agency was regarded as being ‘reasonably successful’ in terms of policy but conceded that motorway speeds across the country were not fast enough during busy periods. He revealed that the civil service’s budget rules meant that the department lost £20 million from the roads budget because of wet weather in January and February, which prevented repair work being carried out. He said: "In a normal commercial business, I can replan that work to have it done in March, April, May, June, July; whenever. But because I'm part of the civil service, I couldn't replan the work and had to give the money back the Treasury. At the end of the year, I've lost the budget and that means that because the work still needs to be done, something else won’t get done."

Shadow Transport Secretary, Mary Creagh, slammed Mr Dalton’s revelations, saying: "This startling admission is an indictment of this Government's decision to slash spending on our motorways and cancel many road projects that would have tackled congestion and increased speed and reliability on our motorways."

A Highways Agency spokesman confirmed that there is no official target for managing motorway speeds below the legal limit of 70mph. He said: "The Highways Agency has been successful in making journeys more reliable and predictable; now we need to make them quicker as well."

British roads are not ranked among the top 20 in an international league table produced by Civil Service World. The country comes in 24th place, trailing behind many developed countries, including France, a country not long ago renowned for the poor state of its roads.

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