§ Mr. David Davis
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made with constructing and improving motorways in the current year.
§ Mr. Peter Bottomley
Motorway developments continue to form a key element of the national road programme. They are large discrete projects and the progress of starts and completions is not necessarily a regular flow.
The connection of the M42 to the M5 for southbound traffic, opened in March 1987, was the most recent new section of motorway to be completed.
Extensive work is in progress. This includes widening six miles of the M25 between Chertsey and Staines to four lanes, and five miles of the M5 between Warndon and Rashwood to three lanes, as well as construction of the five-mile Portwood-Denton section of the Manchester motorway box and the systematic improvement of its older sections, including the installation of modern signalling. The Warwick section of the 59-mile extension of the M40 was started last summer and the first contract for the Banbury bypass section was let last month. We expect to start the Gaydon section, between the other two, in the summer.
Work will start shortly on new climbing lanes for slow heavy vehicles which will help to ease congestion on the M62, eastbound between junctions 21 and 22, and westbound between junctions 24 and 25.
We plan to start construction during the next 12 months of schemes to extend the M3 from Compton, south of Winchester to the M27, and to fill the 14-mile gap in the M20 between Maidstone and Ashford which will be the principal route to and from the Channel tunnel.