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Transport to get £3.5bn

NEWS - Extra Government funding paves way for 33 new national and regional schemes over three-year period

THE DEPARTMENT of Transport and the Highways Agency have confirmed £3.5 billion of funding for national, regional and local transport projects.

Transport secretary Alistair Darling has given the green light for £1billion of major improvements to strategic national roads, £900 million to regional projects and £1.6 billion to local infrastructure schemes.

The announcement paves the way for 33 national and regional schemes to start by April 2008 over a three-year period.

Included in the list is the long-awaited £35 million A550 Deeside Park improvement in Chester, won by Mowlem 18 months after first being advertised, and Balfour Beatty's highly sought after £34 million A1 Bramham-Wetherby conversion in West Yorkshire.

The £200 million M1 junction 6a to 10 deal in Hertfordshire, currently chased by Balfour Beatty/Skanska, Mowlem/ Costain, Sir Robert McAlpine/Morgan Est, Amec/Alfred McAlpine and Laing O'Rourke, also features.

Mr Darling confirmed the spending after addressing industry leaders at the Construction News Contractor 100 Breakfast Club where he pledged to keep investment flowing steadily.

Regional schemes to get the official nod include Mowlem's £103 million Mottram -Tintwistle bypass - a project for which locals have campaigned for 13 years.

Sixteen schemes have been put forward for consideration when the next round of funding becomes available in 2008.The jewel in the crown is the £430 million M1 junction 10 to 13 widening, which is expected to go out to tender in January.

Jim Turner of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association said: 'What is of interest is projects such as the A303 Stonehenge and A11 Attleborough Bypass schemes which are seemingly slipping behind younger projects.'

Local transport's £1.6 billion windfall for 2005/06 will be divided with £660 million going to highway maintenance schemes, £552 million to integrated transport projects and major new road contracts pulling in £407 million.

Mr Turner said: 'Of that £1.6 billion headline figure only £1.44 billion is committed. Last year the headline figure was £1.9 billion with £1.5 billion committed, so there is a reduction of up to £300 million.'