6bn motorway improvement plans revealed

* 6bn to reduce congestion on major routes * Hard-shoulder running included in plans * Urban congestion to be tackled, too...

The Department for Transport has announced a 6bn investment plan to improve and adapt England's road system to battle congestion on motorways and other key routes.

Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly said the plans allowed the department to 'develop and implement more innovative approaches to the way we use our major roads.'

She added that it included opening up hard shoulders to traffic, a method that was successfully tested on the M42 around Birmingham earlier this year.

A feasibility study has already identified nearly 500 miles of motorway which have the potential for hard-shoulder running, including London-bound stretches of the M3 and M4, the M5 and M4 around Bristol, and the M3 and M27 around Southampton.

Urban congestion will also be tackled, with areas such as Bristol, Greater Manchester, London and the West Midlands being among the first to benefit from a 60m urban congestion fund.

Leeds, Cambridgeshire and Reading will also get funding to continue developing their congestion-managing plans.