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Motorways (Maintenance)

Volume 941: debated on Wednesday 14 December 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he is satisfied with the standard of maintenance on the motorways.

Is it not now becoming clear that the construction of some motorways, particularly in the vital Midlands area, is seen to have been substandard? Does the Minister agree that unless extensive repairs and maintenance are carried out, there could be a serious effect on the total motorway system? Will he resist any complacency and ensure that he continues to be satisfied with the standards of maintenance and repair of motorways?

I do not think that any motorways were built below standard. The design life of motorways built in the early 1960s, which includes some of the Midlands motorways, is approaching its end. There is a standing committee on highway maintenance which closely monitors the situation, and we take careful note of what it recommends.

Will my hon. Friend take account of the fact that the M1 from London to the Birmingham turn-off seems to require more maintenance than any other stretch of motorway of which I am aware? Is he satisfied that the base was good when it was laid? Is he also satisfied about its maintenance? All too often two lanes are out of use, and that causes congestion.

I realise that people are concerned when a motorway is being repaired, because it can lead to congestion and in some cases to accidents. Clearly we must be concerned about that aspect. My hon. Friend referred to a rather old motorway. In many areas motorways are now approaching the end of their design life.

Will the Minister comment on the maintenance of decisions on motorways? There appears to be some doubt whether his decision on the extension of the M1 will be maintained. Will he encourage the North-East Development Council to accept that the new route that he has selected should be the one to be pursued, rather than to argue for the one that he has rejected?

The hon. Gentleman is once again adopting the old ploy of getting in a supplementary on a Question with which it has no real connection. None the less, I am delighted to give him the assurance for which he asks.

Who designed motorways with a total life expectation of just 17 years? What was originally intended to be used after they were worn out?