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M11 And A12 Roadworks

Volume 622: debated on Monday 19 February 2001

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asked Her Majesty's Government:Why the Highways Agency has allowed major roadworks to be carried out simultaneously on the A.12 trunk road at Brentwood and the M.11 motorway; and what steps they intend to take to prevent the recurrence of the congestion which has resulted. [HL649]

The works referred to are on the A.12 Brentwood Bypass and the M.11 between Junction 8 and to a point where the motorway crosses the A.1060 near Little Hallingbury. These are the latest in a series of major maintenance schemes on these roads.Although both routes have been regularly maintained in the past, this has largely been on the basis of localised and emergency repair works. As a result of our Comprehensive Spending and Trunk Road Reviews, we have now made road maintenance a priority and, with the extra and guaranteed funding, the Highways Agency has been able to tackle the backlog of essential maintenance with a concerted programme of major works on both these roads.The Highways Agency very carefully considers the impact that such schemes will have on users of the trunk road and motorway network. Its aim is to keep disruption and inconvenience to a minimum and to make sure that, wherever possible, major roadworks on existing routes are no more than 2.5 miles long and at least 6 miles apart. The agency also has targets to keep 95 per cent of lanes on the motorway and trunk road network as a whole free of roadworks at all times and to keep 93 per cent of lanes on each motorway and trunk road free of roadworks.Wherever possible, the agency tries to leave an alternative strategic route unaffected. Although the M.11 and A.12 cannot be considered as direct alternatives to each other, the current works were originally planned not to coincide on these vital routes to and from East Anglia. However, major schemes such as these require considerable time in preparation and unforeseen circumstances can delay the start of works, as has happened in the case of the A.12.After careful consideration, the agency decided that the works could not be postponed on either route until the other had been completed. It concluded that the overall effect on the network of working on both the A.12 and M.11 simultaneously would not be severe if the schemes were carefully planned. The experience of earlier phases in the major maintenance programme and the evidence to date on the current works have shown this to be the case.The agency has taken extensive steps to limit the severity of any disruption. Work on both schemes is being carried out 24 hours a day to ensure that they are completed as quickly as possible. At peak times the work is organised so that as many lanes as possible are open to traffic. The agency has also extensively publicised the schemes to encourage people to consider using alternative routes or public transport.

I believe these measures have reduced the levels of inconvenience to the public a great deal and the agency will continue to use them to limit levels of congestion during future major maintenance works on these and other routes.