HC Deb 04 July 1962 vol 662 cc519-20
19. Mr. Wade

asked the Minister of Transport by what amount in costs per mile the estimated cost of constructing new motorways has risen between January, 1959, and the latest available date in 1962.

Mr. Hay

The cost of constructing motorways varies widely according to the particular circumstances of each route, including soil conditions and the extent to which major structures are necessary. Average costs may, therefore, be misleading but some indication of the increase in costs is given by the following figures. The average cost of M.1, including land, was approximately £ 407,000 per mile. The estimated average cost per mile, including land, of the M.6 motorway from Dunston to Preston by-pass is approximately £ 699,000. This figure reflects the cost of three major viaducts, of poor soil conditions and improved design standards. It also reflects the general rise in tender rates since 1959.

Mr. Wade

But to what does the hon. Gentleman attribute these very substantial increases in the cost of making these motorways? Would he agree that one of the reasons is the uneconomic use of specialised equipment due to the lack of any steady continuous programme of construction that would ensure full and uninterrupted use of this plant?

Mr. Hay

No, Sir. I tried in my answer to give some of the factors which relate to this increase in costs. This old idea that it is uneconomic not to build a motorway except all in one piece and all at one time because otherwise plant stands idle has been exploded on a number of occasions. It just is not so.

Mr. J. Wells

Will my hon. Friend give some figures for the Maidstone bypass, including the cost per mile, since that by-pass appears to have been partly worn out in a very short time? Were we in Kent unfortunate enough to have a cheap job done?

Mr. Hay

I know that my hon. Friend makes use of that road frequently but I did not know that his use of it was so intensive as to wear it out. I cannot give details relating to the Maidstone by-pass without notice.