Contractors due to be involved in a series of motorway widening schemes are being told to speed up the process by officials at the Department for Transport (DfT).

The government is looking to increase motorway capacity across the UK and want to ensure that three earmarked schemes are finished ahead of the original completion that was set out by officials. The DfT has announced that a number of construction plans will be brought forward to start in 2013/14 in order for them to be finished in 2015 as opposed to the 2016 deadline that had previously been highlighted for the roads to be ready for use.

Officials at the DfT said that the plans are expected to be completed in half the time they were originally given and it will help to add 72 miles to the UK's highways, allowing for extra capacity. The move is designed to ensure that all the projects are finished during the current spending review period. DfT officials said that under the new plan of action it will mean that it is now estimated that one kilometre of managed motorway, that uses the hard shoulder as an extra lane, can be built every two weeks as opposed to the current time of four weeks.

Patrick McLoughlin, transport secretary said: "I am determined to cut the time it takes to upgrade our roads in half by dismantling procedures that have slowed us down. Together these schemes will increase capacity for millions of road users by 72 miles. My ambition is that in future all major road schemes will be accelerated, tackling congestion more quickly and boosting the economy."

The schemes that have been highlighted for being fast tracked are the M3 junction two to 4a in Surrey, M6 junction 10a to 13 in the West Midlands, M1 junction 28 to 31 in Derbyshire while there is also change afoot for the dualling of the A160/A180 in Immingham, which is integral for sea travel to the rest of Europe. Although the first three will begin in 2013/14, the Immingham development will get underway in 2015 with a completion date penned for autumn 2016 as opposed to 2018.

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