The government has launched a consultation on which A-roads across England should be upgraded in a multi-million pound investment programme.

The funding will target A-roads up and down the country. As part of the government’s Transport Investment Strategy announced during the summer, the government has committed to creating a Major Road Network (MRN) that sits underneath the Strategic Road Network (SRN) – motorways and large A-roads managed by Highways England – and above the Local Road Network (LRN) managed by local authorities.

The government is calling on councils to apply for projects worth up to £100 million each over the next 12 weeks of consultation. Upgrade schemes that could be eligible for funding include:

  • bypasses
  • missing links between existing routes
  • road widening
  • major junction improvements
  • the use of technological and safety enhancements along stretches of the network

About 5,000 miles of A-roads fall within the scope of the strategy. The consultation also invites opinions on the role that local, regional and national bodies will play in the MRN investment programme.

The government hopes that the MRN will help deliver the following objectives:

  • reduce congestion
  • support economic growth and rebalancing
  • support housing delivery
  • support all road users
  • support the Strategic Road Network

The consultation has been welcomed by the country’s two major road transport organisations, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) and Freight Transport Association (FTA).

“The prospect of investment in the transport network to improve the flow of the goods and services we all rely on is good news,” said RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett. “Whilst major roads have often benefitted from investment, A-roads and local roads have been under-invested in for many years.”

The FTA insists that freight transport must be at the heart of any new investment programme. “Any investment in our road network is good news, especially given the lack of funding available over recent years for councils to improve just these kinds of roads,” said the FTA head of UK policy, Christopher Snelling. “But the government must ensure that any projects funded by this scheme are designed for freight as well as car users.”

The Department for Transport will analyse responses following closure of the consultation, with a formal response published and the MRN Programme to be launched in summer 2018. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told the BBC that he hopes development will start next year and building work will start within three years.

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