Roads for Prosperity

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Roads for Prosperity (often incorrectly called Road to Prosperity)[1] was a controversial white paper published by the Conservative government in the United Kingdom in 1989; detailing the largest road building programme for the UK since the Romans[2] produced in response to rapid increases in car ownership and use over the previous decade. It embraced what Margaret Thatcher had described as 'the great car economy' although implementation led to widespread road protests and many of the schemes contained within it were abandoned by 1996.[3]


The proposals included 500 road schemes at an estimated cost of £23,000,000,000 based on predicted traffic growth of 142% by 2025.[1] It would have involved the doubling of the trunk road capacity with around 150 bypasses being built to meet the predicted demand.[4] According to The Times, the road network expanded by 24,000 miles (38,624 km) between 1985-1995 and then by only 1.6% between 1996-2006; no definition of "the road network" is provided.[5]

Schemes included the following:

  • Widen the M25 motorway to dual 4 lanes (some sections have subsequently been widened)
  • Widen the M1 motorway between the M25 and the M18 to dual 4 lanes (partially implemented much later)
  • Build the new Newbury Bypass (built in the face of major protests)
  • Extend the M3 extension past Winchester across Twyford Down (built in the face of major protests during the second half of the 1990s)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "History and context". Towards a Sustainable Transport System: Growth in a Low Carbon World. London: Department for Transport. October 2007. ISBN 978-0-10-172262-9. Retrieved 18 November 2007.
  2. ^ Sadler, Richard (13 December 2006). "Roads to ruin". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  3. ^ Lean, Geoffrey (21 January 1996). "Tories ditch the 'car economy'". The Independent. London. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  4. ^ Kingsnorth, Paul (30 June 2003). "Do we have to set England alight again?". New Statesman. Retrieved 28 December 2007.
  5. ^ Webster, Ben (11 September 2006). "Broken promises leave dozens of towns in queue for a bypass". The Times. London: News International. Retrieved 18 November 2007.

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