The Curse of the Zombie Roads

The paper sets out the history of road building along two transport corridors in South West England over the last two decades and seeks explanations for the revival of major highway schemes such as the A350 Westbury Bypass and the A36 Salisbury bypass. Thanks to massive efforts by environmental groups both schemes have been decisively rejected by the planning system and the government. Why have such 'Zombie roads' survived into the 21st Century when the environmental constraints on further increases in road traffic should rule them out of consideration? These leftovers from the road-building boom of the 1990s rely on the transport mythologies of the era of 'Roads for Growth' being revived by the present government's plan to spend £18bn on new roads. The myths have survived - traffic will never stop increasing; the government must predict the growth and provide for it; an absurd cost-benefit appraisal system based on journey time savings can still be relied on to show that even these rejected schemes from the 1990s will be good value for money today. Can such apparently suicidal irrationality be explained by the fears of governments and global corporations that congestion in local surface transport links might one day bring their entire global 'Big transport' network to a grinding halt?

Language

  • English

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  • Accession Number: 01531860
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 24 2014 6:04PM