Widening M25 ‘not the answer’ to congestion problems
Widening the M25 would have “significant effects on surrounding communities” and would not be effective in reducing congestion, a new government report has revealed.
The weighty M25 South West Quadrant Strategic Study (M25SWQ), published by the Department for Transport (DfT) on Thursday, claims to “identify and appraise options for improving performance of the transport network across all modes in and around the M25 South West Quadrant”.
The study looked at the section of the M25 between, and including, junction 10 for the A3 at Wisley and junction 16 for the M40 in Buckinghamshire.
The report states future work on the M25 should not focus on widening the road, but rather look to “reduce pressures and provide parallel capacity to relieve the motorway network”.
“The evidence gathered to date suggests directly adding capacity to the M25 (beyond what is already committed) is technically challenging and would have significant effects on surrounding communities,” says the report.
“It also shows that where alternative capacity exists away from the M25, conditions are better. This suggests planners should think about the M25SWQ as a corridor and not an asset which ends at the motorway’s boundary fence.”
The report continues: “This study recommends the focus of future work should not be on widening the existing road. Instead, attention should be given to how to reduce pressures and provide parallel capacity to relieve the motorway network.
“This should work first to find alternatives to travel, or to move traffic to more sustainable modes.
“But the volume of travel means that road enhancements are also likely to be needed.”
The report recommends two pieces of further work to improve journeys on this part of the M25:
- Examining the current situation and other methods of transport, such as public transport, to assess what is necessary
- Explore options for new or enhanced highway capacity, separate but parallel to the M25
Reads the report: “The first is to join up local partners and transport providers to understand in detail the viable options on the local road network and railways.
“This means understanding the feasibility and scale of impact options on the local road network and public transport would have on the M25SWQ.
“These should reduce the need to travel, improve public transport and enhance local roads to reduce pressure on the M25.”
It adds: “In parallel, the Department for Transport and Highways England should explore the potential for new and enhanced highway capacity.
“This is likely to begin with developing upgrades for existing roads in the study area but could also investigate options for roads away from existing alignments to fill in the gaps between existing roads.
“Any proposals for additional highways should find the most efficient and least disruptive options, whilst making best use of environmental mitigation and design.”