HC Deb 15 January 1964 vol 687 cc208-10
28. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Minister of Transport whether,in view of the forecast of the Buchanan Report on the foreseeable increase in motor vehicles, he will now adopt the United States system of building all new roads of motorway standard with a broad central strip, which can later be used to provide two extra lanes.

Mr. Marples

No, Sir. The number of lanes to be provided on motorways is determined by an assessment of traffic needs 20 years ahead. To provide space in the central reserve for additional lanes would cost almost as much as providing the full carriageway-width initially, since land requirements are the same and embankments, cuttings, bridges must be built to accommodate the future requirements. While the extra lanes were being constructed, the capacity of the existing carriageways would be very seriously reduced.

Mr. Digby

Is it not clear from the Buchanan Report—and the figures in that Report are very striking—that we have been underestimating the increase in traffic and that already some of the new motorways which we have been making, like the Meriden by-pass, are inadequate for the volume of traffic at the time that they are completed? Surely here again we can learn from the American example.

Mr. Marples

We have studied a great deal of what has happened in America, but I should be glad if my hon. Friend would give me an example of any motorway in this country which is seriously overloaded.

Mr. Holt

Does not the Minister accept that the rate of completion of the motorways which he is building now is deplorably inadequate? What does he propose to do to speed it up, not only in view of the information which we have already, but particularly in the light of the Buchanan Report?

Mr. Marples

The Buchanan Report does not deal with motorways so much as with roads in the cities. Generally speaking, motorways are in between towns. With regard to urban motorways, we must be careful that we build them in the right place and in the right way, and that means traffic surveys.

Mr. P. Williams

Is my right hon. Friend aware that most of the people who travel on the Great North Road will welcome the construction of dual carriageways as they are being constructed but that there is doubt about the construction of the bridges over the motorways? These bridges are constructed in such a way that the two lanes cannot at a subsequent date be made into three lanes. This is an unnecessary and wasteful economy.

Mr. Marples

Technically, it is extremely difficult to build a road for only two carriageways and to extend it to three. It is much better to build two or three carriageways in the first place and to leave it at that.