Years of “excessive customer frustration” are ahead for users of the motorway network and local roads. Stark warnings have been issued this week by the Road Hauliers Association and Highways England that construction traffic for a new runway could bring everything to a complete standstill.
Road Hauliers Association chief executive Richard Burnett has called for clarification on the effects construction of a Third Runway would have on the surrounding road network. Highways England, meanwhile, has warned there will be years of frustration ahead for motorists – and that’s aside from extensive changes to the local roads in Colnbrook and Poyle.
Burnett told industry magazine Motor Transport following Tuesday’s Government announcement:
“We need to have clarity on the plans for the additional necessary road infrastructure during construction work. We also need to know the timescale of the proposed work.
“Although there will be considerable long-term benefits – increased cargo etc, the immediate impact on the adjacent motorway network – the M25, M4 and M3 will also be considerable”.
The association is currently lobbying Government to provide better facilities to HGV drivers across the country in recognition of the critical role they play in distributing goods across the UK.
“The M25 in particular is already operating to maximum capacity – the addition of construction vehicles will only add to the burden.”
Campaign group Stop Heathrow Expansion made much of the Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney, being stuck on the M25 in September. He was scheduled to join the Prime Minister on a flight to the G20 summit from the airport but, “like so many Heathrow passengers, he was stuck in a car cursing the overloaded road network”.
“There will be a substantial risk of excessive customer frustration about what might be prolonged period of disruption, first while any Heathrow works are done and then while our works are completed within the wider area.” Highways England. Oct 2016
But the tongue-in-cheek comment has also been made by Highways England in documents released by the Department for Transport since the Heathrow decision was announced earlier this week.
Highways England was commissioned to evaluate the Airports Commission’s estimates for motorway upgrades and concluded that:
- While they are within the range of estimate, there would be “significant potential for cost overruns”.
- There would be significant costs to changes to the local road network around Heathrow, but these were outside its remit to comment on.
- It would need to “dovetail” existing planned projects impacting the motorway network around Heathrow to minimise disruption.
- The M25 tunnel project was a “high risk” and could cost up to £1.1bn.
- There would be “resource challenges on the industry” to deliver the projects as they run concurrently with more than half of project’s in the Government’s national Road Investment Strategy programme alone.
- There would be a “substantial risk of excessive customer frustration” for years.
No evaluation of the cost or impact to local roads in the Airports Commission’s report has yet been released.
Heathrow’s Master Plan was updated in October 2014 to show a new by-pass between the southern perimeter of the new runway and homes in Colnbrook and Pippins School. With two major new local roads to the north and east of Colnbrook being constructed in parallel with changes to the M4 and M25 the motorway changes may well be of secondary importance locally – even if the runway is built on stilts over the M25.