£317m scheme to put traffic lights on motorways has made congestion worse

The pinch point programme was established in 2011 to relieve congestion, stimulate growth in local economies and improve safety. Small-scale projects generally costing up to £10 million were chosen, with work often involving changes to junctions, adding traffic lights, widening slip roads and new signage. The programme was largely delivered by Highways England’s predecessor, the Highways Agency, and was completed by March 2016.RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes told the Press Association: “It’s very disappointing that Highways England’s work to tackle pinch points on its road network has not been as successful as had been hoped.”While congestion has been reduced at peak times of the day, unfortunately many schemes have seen increased traffic at off-peak periods, mostly due to traffic lights being introduced.”Luckily, it seems as though there are some simple steps that can be taken to improve the worst of these new off-peak traffic flow issues, such as changing signals to work part-time instead of full-time.”It is also important to realise that this work was not just about reducing congestion and that many schemes have seen small reductions in the number of road casualties.” “This useful insight is helping us develop improved appraisal methods for small-scale schemes, which in turn help us deliver improved benefits to people using our motorways and major A roads.”Meanwhile, we are considering a range of options to improve journeys by using traffic signals which respond to traffic flows.” Traffic lights introduced on motorways have made congestion worse despite Highways England spending £317m on schemes, a government report has revealed.The report by Highways England showed that a pinch point programme to tackle particularly congested areas of road often resulted in faster rush hour journeys, but slower journeys at other times of the day.Overall, journey times were slower than before the money was spent to try and ease congestion, improve safety and boost growth in local economies.Highways England believed the slower overall journey times were mainly caused by the introduction of traffic lights, with 44% of the schemes introducing the new signalling.The RAC described the findings as “very disappointing”.There were 119 congested areas of road that received a share of the £317m funding, announced in the 2011 Budget.The report looked at the first-year impact of 54 of the 119 schemes carried out on England’s motorways and major A roads. Nearly half of the schemes with an aim to cut journey times failed to achieve that goal.The report concluded that it must consider the impact of projects “across all 168 hours of the week, not just the 10-30 peak hours”.Future schemes must “better consider how to mitigate the downsides while maintaining the upsides”, the document added. A spokesman for Highways England said: “This report shows that overall, these schemes… were successful at tackling congestion at the busiest times and improving safety. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.

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