In July 2003 the then Secretary of State for Transport, my right hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, South-West (Mr. Darling), in response to the ORBIT multi-modal study, confirmed his intention to add an extra lane of capacity to bring most of the remaining three lane sections of the M25 up to four lanes in each direction. Construction work on this major investment project costing over £2 billion is expected to start in 2008 and run through until 2016 with the widening being undertaken in stages.
At the time of the decision to increase the capacity of the M25, it was made clear that widening would be pursued alongside measures to improve the management of traffic flow in order to lock in the benefits that the additional capacity would provide.
The Department has been exploring how traffic management technology already being used on the motorway network might be used to control congestion on the orbital motorway and its junctions. But traffic using the motorway also uses surrounding local roads and not just the motorway. The modelling that has been completed shows that there is potentially considerable benefit to be gained in the Department applying and operating traffic management techniques jointly with local authorities. The benefits would be reflected in better overall journey times for the majority of road users, across both the national and the local networks
It is vital that we harness local authorities' local knowledge at the planning stage, as well as developing a joint approach in applying that knowledge. I am therefore writing today to all the local authorities around the M25 to start this dialogue, focusing initially on those in the north west segment, where the first section of widening will take place, with the aim of developing an approach that will ensure long-distance traffic and local residents all benefit from this huge national investment.