An official Government report has come out against widening the South West Quadrant of the M25, backing measures such as developing alternatives to travel and moving traffic to ‘more sustainable modes’.
The Department for Transport and Highways England have published the M25 south-west quadrant strategic study: stage 3 report, which recommends focusing on how to reduce pressures and provide parallel capacity to relieve the motorway network rather than widening existing roads.
The South West Quadrant of the M25 is between Junctions 10 and 16
Its key recommendation is that: ‘the focus of future work should not be on widening the existing road. Instead, attention should be given to how to reduce pressures and provide parallel capacity to relieve the motorway network.’
The report adds: ‘This should work first to find alternatives to travel, or to move traffic to more sustainable modes. But the volume of travel means that road enhancements are also likely to be needed.’
The report notes that the economy of the South East region has continued to do well recently despite regular congestion and delay on the transport system, most notably on the M25, but argues that future planned growth cannot take place without significant additional transport capacity.
It states: ‘This problem is urgent, and all solutions will take years to develop. A wait-and-see approach that relies on one measure providing a comprehensive solution would carry great risks for the communities and businesses that depend on the M25 continuing to function.
‘Plans for different packages of measures should therefore develop in parallel, with implementation decided upon in light of what other measures seem able to deliver.’
The report recommends that, as well as developing or supporting individual proposals, central government should ensure that the total impact is large enough to ensure a meaningful improvement in road conditions, including establishing ‘a numerical target for how much additional capacity it intends to add to the M25, either by reducing existing pressures or by increasing available capacity’.
Bridget Fox of the Campaign for Better Transport said: ‘We welcome the recognition that we cannot simply build our way out of congestion. The M25 study is right to focus on improving capacity on the existing network through moving to more sustainable modes. That makes sense for the environment and the taxpayer too.
‘Those measures should be implemented in full before any new roads are planned. New roads create more traffic, and it is wrong to sacrifice precious countryside for more tarmac when positive alternatives are available.’
The study is one of six strategic studies that are intended to inform the development of the second phase of the road investment strategy (RIS 2). It was announced as part of the RIS 1, published in December 2014.