A five-year business plan that sets out how England’s motorways and major A-roads will be modernised, maintained and operated between 2015 and 2020 has been published.
The Strategic Business Plan also has a focus on improved customer service, better planning and stronger relationships.
It has been published by Highways England today (9 Deember 2014) – the government owned company which will replace the existing Highways Agency from April next year. The name change, which was exclusively revealed by Highways Magazine, was announced by Transport Minister John Hayes in Parliament yesterday (8 December).
The plan includes commitments to planning roadworks to reduce further works over the next five years, clear up incidents more quickly, increase access to local routes for cyclists and pedestrians, improve the environment for those who live by our roads and make £1.2 billion of efficiencies through innovation, smarter working and better planning. Closer working with partners and stakeholders will enable better delivery and future planning for the next roads investment period.
Graham Dalton, Highways Agency chief executive, said: “This is another important milestone for England’s motorways and major A roads. Our Strategic Business Plan makes it clear that in order to deliver investment of this scale we need to work smarter, build strong relationships and provide a really good service for our customers. This will allow us to provide a network that offers better journeys on better roads enabling growth across the country.
“The plan is ambitious and sets out a vision where safety means no-one should be harmed on our network; where minimal disruption means planning roadworks better over the next five years; and modernisation means more ‘smart’ motorways and a new standard of A road turning them into ‘expressways’. When we realise this vision it will make a real difference for the four million people who drive on this network every day.”
Speaking separately in a conference call, Mr Dalton added: “We want to get a spine of smart motorways. If we are able to we’d like to achieve connecting London and the south-east (the M25 ring) right the way up the M1 via Birmingham and up to Manchester as a smart motorway. It would be a four-lane route connected with technology. It (the plan) also takes forward the ‘expressways’ concept. This is a new product for the busier all purpose trunk roads. It will make sure they are grade separated and fitted with technology.”
This is the first time a five-year business plan has been developed for England’s strategic road network. Published in response to the Road Investment Strategy published on Monday (1 December), it explains how the new company will deliver the largest investment in roads since the 1970s, enabling economic growth in cities and towns across the country.
The plan focuses on modernising, maintaining and operating the network, making specific commitments, including:
- Building 400 miles of extra capacity by creating a spine of smart motorways that relieve congestion and reduce delays without the need for widening
- A safety programme that builds towards the vision of no-one harmed on the strategic road network
- The introduction of a new standard for A roads known as ‘expressways’ with modernised junctions, refuge areas and advanced technology to keep traffic moving
- Substantial resurfacing of the network and reducing noise at 1,150 locations
- Producing a National Cycling Strategy by the end of 2015
- Reducing the impact of incidents by clearing 85% of motorway incidents within one hour by working closely with the emergency services and partners
- Creating a new company with the right capabilities and effective working with suppliers.
The plan will be followed by a detailed Delivery Plan, due for publication before Highways England starts operating in April 2015, which sets out how the Strategic Business Plan will be delivered.