North East gridlock misery is costing us billions, report reveals

Campaigners call for investment in North East road infrastructure as scale of cash wasted is unveiled

Cash injection could see an end to motoring misery as traffic builds up on the A1
Heavy traffic on the A1 in Gateshead

Calls for meaningful investment in the North East’s infrastructure were made last night as a report revealed gridlock is costing billions.

Build-ups in urban areas like Newcastle are a drain on the region’s economy and see commuters spending up to 40 hours a year stuck in traffic jams.

The figures, compiled by traffic information company Inrix and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), said gridlock throughout the country is costing households £4.4bn a year.

The report was compiled by studying congestion in the UK’s 18 largest urban areas.

Experts calculated the overall cost figure from the direct cost of fuel wasted - an astonishing £441m - the direct cost of commuter time wasted in traffic (£2.79 billion) and the indirect cost to household bills (£1.19 billion).

Costs are passed on to households through higher freight and business fees as a result of company vehicles being stuck in traffic.

John Dickson is chairman of the Civil Engineering Contractors’ Association (CECA) and chairman of construction contractor Owen Pugh and has backed the report’s findings.

The Association of Consulting Engineers, the Civil Engineering Contractors’ Association and the Institution of Civil Engineers are joining forces to make a case for Government officials to plough money into preserving and improving the North East’s roads, drains and bridges.

Mr Dickson said: “On the whole we have good infrastructure in the North East but in Newcastle’s western bypass we have one of the most congested roads in Europe.

“When I am trying to move people in between Owen Pugh sites and they get caught in gridlock, the whole operation seizes up and they can spend half an hour stuck in a traffic jam.

“The costs can be huge.”

Mr Dickson said the coalition could save millions by making roadways a priority.

He said: “The costs are borne by the whole of society and therefore we don’t see them.

“We don’t often count up how much it costs the individual like this.

“A dual carriageway around the east side of Newcastle conurbation would help but it hasn’t been done and those improvements are a long way off.

“If we had some investment, it would dramatically reduce the gridlock and the costs that we all bear.

Inrix European director Matt Simmons said the staggering figures show swift action is needed from the Government.

He said: “Millions commute to work by car every day and these findings expose the significant economic impact gridlock is having on the UK economy.

“Congestion is reducing productivity, leaving commuters with higher bills and less time, as well as damaging the environment. With debates around HS2 and the UK’s transport infrastructure, it is time to take action.

“By utilising ‘big data’ to make sense of traffic intelligence on vehicle movement, bottlenecks and congestion, Britain can address the challenges facing its road network and the millions that depend upon it.”

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