A new class of European-style expressways is set to turn some of England's busiest A-roads, including the A14 and A16, into 'mini motorways' developed as part of an £11bn road reform plan.
According to The Times 18 major roads will be initially upgraded, with a further seven projects being considered. The newspaper said that roundabouts and traffic lights will be removed, introducing entrance and exit slip lanes and restricting slow-moving vehicles to keep traffic flowing.
Among the first routes would be the A46 between the A1 and the M1 in the East Midlands; the A1 north of Newcastle; the A303 and A30 from the junction with the M3 in Hampshire to Exeter; the A14 from Huntington to Cambridge; and the A556 between the M56 and M6 in Cheshire.
The newly-formed Highways England, due to replace the Highways Agency from April 1 to cut bureaucracy and provide long-term funding, will upgrade the key A-roads into expressways over the next five years. These 'mini motorways' will be a new classification between an A-road and a motorway.
Drivers are to benefit from the provision of roadside Wi-Fi to beam traffic information directly into cars, while advanced technology will be used to detect and help clear incidents more quickly.
Similar expressways already exist in Italy, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria.
A Highways Agency spokesman said: “Innovation will be a major driving force behind everything Highways England does over the next five years. We will work closely with the Department for Transport, specialists and the private sector on technology and strategic growth that will make best use of our roads. These changes will improve journeys for our customers, boost safety and drive economic growth.”
Patrick McLoughlin, transport secretary, said: “The creation of Highways England will mean better value for money, improved customer satisfaction, more road capacity, improved safety and a better quality of service for millions of people who use the strategic road network every day.”