17:40 Thursday 4th July 2013
BBC Radio Cambridge
CHRIS MANN: Last week the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander announced the start date of the A14 upgrade has been brought forward to 2016. But just how feasible is that? Pat Hanlon is Senior Lecturer in Transport Economics at Birmingham University, and joins me now. Hell0 Pat.
PAT HANLON: Hello. Hello.
CHRIS MANN: So, 2016, optimistic?
PAT HANLON: Possibly, but three years is still quite a long time. Had a check on other projects which have been road projects, and for instance Junction 19, the renewal of that on the M1. That had its public inquiry in March 2013, with a start date some time of January to March 2014. So although that’s not anything like as big as the upgrade to the A14, I think that we’re in the time scales that you’re looking at for public inquiries. Three years is possible, but they might be a little bit tight when you recognise, public inquiry perhaps ..
CHRIS MANN: They need to make their mind up Pat, don’t they, on what exactly they’re going to do. Tolling, what kind of tolling, where it’s going to go and all the rest of it.
PAT HANLON: Indeed. Yes. There’s a lot to be decided. Although I understand that in fact the Highways Agency has in fact been in some quite detailed discussions with the local authorities on this. And perhaps the actual plans have gone some way. I’m assuming here that it’s not really totally from scratch.
CHRIS MANN: Can planning still be blocked Pat?
PAT HANLON: It could be if people have raised objections, then of course they might be subject to a Judicial Review as well. So there might be a long legal wrangle over this. That is what’s actually likely to take most of the time.
CHRIS MANN: And in your view, does the idea of tolling make it easier and faster, or not?
PAT HANLON: To actually get it through?
CHRIS MANN: Yes.
PAT HANLON: I don’t necessarily think the tolling issue would actually be something that actually frees up or holds it back per se. The idea I think fundamentally would be that they shouldn’t really be very heavy tolls, and they would use a .. they won’t have a toll booth or anything like that. They were thinking in terms of having a similar system to the one that operates with the London Congestion Charge where cameras (focus) on the number plates of cars so you get billed for each time you went down the road. The level of the tolls might be much different from that which applies for example on the M6 toll. Perhaps only as low as £1 per trip for cars, and £2 for a lorry.
CHRIS MANN: OK. Well that’s a subject for another day. But Pat, thank you for joining us. Pat Hanlon, Senior Lecturer in Transport Economics at Birmingham University.