England

M6 widening scheme given go ahead by minister

M42 hard shoulder
Image caption The initiative on the M42 is seen as a success

The secretary of state for transport is visiting parts of the West Midlands motorway network a day after reviewing several congestion improvement schemes.

Philip Hammond said plans for a link road between the M54 and the M6 Toll are to be reconsidered.

But work on the hard shoulder for peak-time driving, at junctions 5 of the M6 at Castle Bromwich and 8, for the M5 link, will go ahead as planned.

Mr Hammond will meet the Highways Agency to discuss the plans.

He announced 16 road and bus schemes in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

Successful trial

Projects approved include upgrades to sections of the M1, M60 and M25 to help relieve congestion.

He said the M6 scheme was being rolled out following a successful trial on the M42 which was first introduced in 2006 at junctions 3a to 7.

In last week's Spending Review, Chancellor George Osborne revealed that transport funding will fall by 15% over the next four years with capital expenditure on new infrastructure down by 11% over the period.

Mr Hammond said on Tuesday that transport remained a "priority" and the 16 schemes had been approved in addition to eight others confirmed in the Spending Review.

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