HC Deb 23 June 1986 vol 100 cc4-6
4. Mr. Chapman

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he is satisfied with his Department's methods and record of forecasting traffic flows on motorways.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

In general, yes. We use methods which provide a sound basis for the planning of national roads.

Mr. Chapman

As the traffic forecasts on the M25, particularly on the western sections of this orbital motorway, have proved to have grossly underestimated the volume using it, does my hon. Friend agree on reflection that there must be a better way of forecasting such flows? Is that not particularly important because the provision of new roads demands long-term planning?

Mr. Bottomley

Yes. I do not think that we are too modest in saying that we try to pick up new ideas and to learn from our experiences. People accept that on occasion we overshoot or undershoot a little. We need to learn most from when we overshoot or undershoot by a great amount.

Mr. Spearing

Do not things happen rather differently? With a dense population and a demand for movement, will not roads almost inevitably fill up in proportion to the additional facilities that they provide? Is not the real answer a balanced programme for transport, including adequate public transport facilities, so that we have reliable and efficient transport by all modes and a minimum of congestion and accidents on the motorways?

Mr. Bottomley

Yes, Sir. However, as the hon. Gentleman would be the first to say, if people can get round half or part of the M25, that helps popular transport, whether by car, coach or bus.

Mr. Richard Page

As in the sections connecting with my constituency of Hertfordshire South-West, the annual traffic flows are between 25 and 40 per cent. above the original estimates, will my hon. Friend re-examine the idea of providing four lanes and, if necessary, consider using the hard shoulder under bridges, as on the continent? Since it is obvious that the forecast methods, if not the forecasters, are the same as those responsible for the original two lanes at the start of the Ml, will the Minister's Department revise those methods?

Mr. Bottomley

We shall do the best that we can, but we do not want too many stretches of motorway without hard shoulders, because they increase the safety of motorways, as my right hon. Friend said in answer to the first question. I doubt whether many people who were responsible for the early stages of the Ml are still in position, but I shall ensure that what my hon. Friend says is taken into account by me and my successors.

Mr. Pike

Will the Minister examine carefully the traffic flows on the M62? Is there not a case for another east-west motorway from Lancashire to Yorkshire? Would it not he a good idea to extend the M65 east from Colne to Yorkshire?

Mr. Bottomley

The hon. Gentleman may be right, but he should engage the attention of his hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing), who seems to believe that this Government should not build any more roads. However, the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Pike) seems to think we should have better and safer roads. Once we get more through traffic on to the through routes, we shall have a chance of improving the residential areas, which will be the real solution to road safety for pedestrians and cyclists.

Mr. Ward

Will my hon. Friend re-examine the traffic forecasts for the M3, because I am sure that they are approximately right? Is he aware that that would clearly demonstrate to him the need to complete the M3-M27 link, which has been held up by one public inquiry after another, where that short section of road is a danger to life?

Mr. Bottomley

Poor stretches between high quality roads increase the dangers because people expect good roads throughout. We shall try to complete the missing link as soon as we can.

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