BUSY roads across Dorset could benefit from a £100 million cash injection from central government, the Dorset Echo can reveal.

The Major Roads Network (MRN) consultation, which has now begun, proposes that 5,000 miles of A roads are brought into scope for new funding from the National Roads Fund for upgrades and improvements.

Upgrade schemes which could be considered are bypasses, missing links between existing routes, road widening, major junction improvements and the use of technological and safety enhancements along stretches of the network.

Among the roads which have been identified for potential projects are the A354 between Weymouth town centre and Dorchester, the A37 between Yeovil and Dorchester and the A35 between Bere Regis and the Bakers Arms roundabout at Lytchett Minister near Poole.

Under the proposals, road upgrades will be developed by councils for these particular routes and, where possible, sub-national transport bodies – a regional body that influences funding decisions such as Transport for the North.

The strategy is being developed to address traffic congestion issues and support the future housing and regeneration plans for towns and cities across the country including in Dorset.

Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary, said: “For decades, these major local roads have been underfunded and not properly maintained.

“We are spending record amounts on improving our roads and we want more of our busiest roads to benefit from guaranteed investment.

“This will unlock no end of benefits for communities by improving motorists’ journeys, taking traffic away from built-up areas, as well as enabling new housing to be built and creating jobs.”

It is planned that a review of the MRN will mirror the planned investment in the strategic road network which includes motorways and large A roads managed by Highways England.

The consultation comes following the publication of the South of England North-South Connectivity Prospectus, created by Bath and North East Somerset, Wiltshire, Dorset and Poole councils, together with local enterprise partnerships which lays out the economic needs for improved links by road.

South Dorset MP Richard Drax welcomed the consultation insisting that Weymouth and Portland were behind in connectivity in comparison to other areas on the south coast such as Southampton.

He added: “The demand for something to take the pressure off Boot Hill is something I have been talking about for seven years.

“We need a better road infrastructure so that heavy good vehicles can use an alternative route to Portland Port.

“I hope that the local authority will look at this very seriously.”

Mr Drax stressed that any potential funding should be used to construct a western relief road in Weymouth linking Wyke Regis and Chickerell which has been in the discussion pipeline for 52 years.

At the end of last year, key industry figures came together at a conference to discuss the western route, which has been named the Jurassic Coast Highway.

Councillor Daryl Turner, Dorset County Council’s cabinet member for natural and built environment, said: “The south coast’s economy has been artificially suppressed due to wholly inadequate transport links to our ports and markets, particularly from the north.

“Improved links offer a huge potential for growth throughout the region.”

Councillor Sean Woodward, a director of the neighbouring Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, added: “When you improve links between areas, you improve commerce which creates enhanced economic growth.”

Ian Girling, chief executive of the Dorset Chamber of Commerce, said: “Traffic congestion and the transport infrastructure is an issue that is a constant concern for businesses across Dorset – and the whole south west.

“Ongoing investment and planning in transport and the road network is an essential platform for economic growth in Dorset.

“We would very much support this consultation and would encourage businesses to have their say.”

The consultation on the A roads that will make up the MRN will close on March 19.