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More Motorway Misery

More Motorway Misery

It is the view of the pessimist that, just when you think that life can’t get any worse, it does. It would not be unreasonable therefore for the average motorist to be pessimistic about the state of our roads. Thought they couldn’t get any worse? Read on:

In order to save money the Highways Agency – subject to a shrinking budget just like the rest of us – has decided that road maintenance will be reduced and that works that have previously be undertaken at night when the roads are quieter will now be done during the day as a cost-cutting measure.

To be fair, it has rather been forced upon them by swingeing cuts to funding. For the period 2014-15 their budget has been slashed by twenty percent, down from £883m to £663m. A new government spending review is due out shortly which is believed to contain further cuts for the year following. Presumably the Chancellor comes up with these ideas whilst wiping succulent grease from his chin after another slap-up feast at the Mansion House at our expense.

Contractors will be asked to make substantial savings and they in turn will have greater freedom to do the work when and how they please. The word ‘how’ is the worry here because tightening budgets could lead to inferior work and materials as contractors strive to maintain profits.

This is also likely to mean a return to large scale traffic jams as road lanes are closed at peak times. Motoring organisations say that this could cost the economy millions. Essentially, the approach will be to lower all standards to the barest minimum of safe levels.

This means that works that needs doing now will be put off until when and if ‘it is most cost effective’ to fix them. These measures are being put in place despite the fact that our major roads and motorways are already causing problems. Speed restrictions are being introduced on some main roads because of the poor condition of surfaces.

There is talk that, where work is essential on a three lane highway, that only the inner (where wear and tear is greatest) and middle lanes will be repaired. Outer lanes may not be touched whilst there is ‘any residual life’ left in them.

Thanks to the lobbying of car-hating organisations and views of the latest Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLaughlin – which differ so much from his predecessor – the government has put the notion of an 80mph motorway limit on the back burner.

As it turns out, this might probably be just as well if our major routes are going to continue to deteriorate. So enjoy the coming Summers, trapped in mighty tailbacks with squalling, overheated kids whilst some workmen apply loose chippings and a bit of spit to the road surface. This is your driving future. Sorry to be so pessimistic.

This post was written by:

- who has written 474 posts on Motor Blogger.

Geoff is a freelance writer and photographer.

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