The Freight Transport Association understands that the timetable for improvements to the M1/M6/A14 junction in Leicestershire has slipped and that work on improving this key strategic junction is now not likely to start until 2009. The Highways Agency's 2006/7 Business Plan included a target to hold a public inquiry into this scheme in 2006/7 and to start work on it in 2007/8. The public inquiry, which FTA believes is unavoidable because of the size and impact of the scheme, has yet to take place.
FTA believes that the scheme will now struggle to achieve its original timetable. The Highways Agency is still seeking ministerial budget approval and the scheme is now not likely to be completed until 2012. This date is still subject to the completion of statutory procedures and the availability of funding.
FTA's Head of Policy for the Midlands, Wales and South West, Stephen Kelly, said, 'Once more we face prevarication and delays to a strategic junction on one of the country's key international Trade Routes for industry. Allowing the timeline to drift means this junction will continue to be a running sore for motorists and a section of the network which is impossible for industry to schedule vehicles accurately through for long periods of the day. To compound the problem for freight operators, the Highways Agency is planning an HGV overtaking ban on the A14 close to this junction.
'The benefit to cost case for this junction improvement is compelling. It is vital that funding for this scheme is released as soon as possible in order to reduce the delays suffered by drivers at peak times when approaching this congestion pinchpoint. Traffic jams at this junction are bad for business, bad for drivers and bad not just for the Midlands economy, but for the economy of the country.'