‘Midlands Engine’ boost as Highways England announces progress on major regional schemes

Catthorpe junction 19 of the M1.

Major progress on multi-million pound projects to improve roads in the Midlands roads has been announced today by Highways England (HE).

HE chief executive Jim O’Sullivan unveiled key developments on a number of major projects, as he gave the opening speech at the two-day Highways UK event at the NEC in Birmingham.

The package announced by O’Sullivan includes: 

  • Completion within weeks of the £191 million improvement scheme at Catthorpe junction 19 of the M1 – which will revolutionise the journeys made by more than 142,000 vehicles through the area every day
  • Key progress on the £106 million A45/A46 Tollbar End improvement scheme
  • Consultation on a £282 million scheme to improve traffic flow around junction 6 of the M42, bringing benefits for the airport and beyond with the pending HS2 ‘hub’ near this location
  • Preferred route announcement to improve three roundabout junctions on the A38 in Derby at Kingsway, Markeaton and Little Eaton junctions
  • Progress on £65 million plans to improve junction 10 of the M6

Commenting on the package, O’Sullivan said: “We are currently delivering more than £15bn of investment in over 100 major schemes across England that will enhance, renew and improve the network and it’s fantastic to see key projects like these in the Midlands making real progress. The Midlands is at the heart of England’s strategic road network and investment in schemes like these benefits the whole country. This region really is the ‘Midlands Engine’ which drives the country.”

Over 142,000 vehicles pass through the junction 19 interchange of the M1, M6 and A14 at Catthorpe each day and the original junction was a notorious bottleneck. The improved junction is already providing direct free-flow links from the A14 to M1 northbound, M1 southbound to A14, M6 to A14 in both directions, M6 to M1 southbound and M1 northbound to M6.

Roadworks are in the process of being removed ahead of the scheme’s completion in December. Motorists travelling through the Tollbar island in Coventry are set to benefit from the partial opening of a new underpass this week as the A45/A46 Tollbar End improvement scheme nears completion, bringing increased capacity and improved journey times and safety.

The opening of lanes on the underpass follows the earlier opening of both east and west bridges earlier this year.

On the M42, consultation gets underway in December on a major junction improvement planned to accommodate increasing traffic flows in the area, allowing for better movement of traffic on and off the A45. The work will boost economic growth and prepare capacity for the new HS2 station, with consultation due to start next month.

The A38 Derby junctions scheme covers improvements to A38/A5111 Kingsway, A38/A52 Markeaton and A38/A61 Little Eaton, with a preferred scheme due to be announced in December. At junction 10 of the M6 an overhaul will see lanes going over the motorway increase from two to four with bridges rebuilt, improving traffic flow.

The initial plans are at the design stage ahead of public engagement early next year. Highways England says that more details are expected to be announced shortly of how people can take part in the consultations and find out more.

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