Highways England has taken over the running of England’s motorways and A-roads from today (Wednesday 1 April 2015).
The new government-owned company has taken over the management of the strategic road network from the Highways Agency.
Improvements over the first five years of operation include 112 major improvements, including 15 smart motorway projects providing 280 extra miles of capacity, and resurfacing the majority of the network. In addition, Highways England proposes to develop a new standard of A roads to be known as expressways that will provide a similar standard of journey as expected on motorways and to address traffic noise pollution using low-noise surfacing at 1,150 locations.
Graham Dalton, chief executive of Highways England, said: “The launch of Highways England is an incredibly significant moment for those who rely on England’s motorways and major A roads.
“As well as delivering the biggest investment in major roads since the 1970s, there will be fundamental changes to the way motorways and major A roads are maintained and operated. We will be focusing on customers, providing better travel information before and during journeys, improving safety and reducing the impact of roadworks.
“Highways England is the organisation that will meet this challenge. We are committed to a strategic road network in England that is far safer, more free-flowing and more integrated and supports economic growth across the country.”
Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) director general, Nick Baveystock, said: “Today marks the end of costly and inefficient ‘stop start’ investment in our road network, and the beginning of a multi-year investment plan geared to meet long term objectives for our roads, and ultimately benefit the economy by tackling congestion more effectively and creating new jobs and apprenticeships.
“The reforms do however bring some challenges. Industry needs to respond to the better certainty of demand by developing its people and capabilities. The changes also come on the cusp of a General Election. Whoever holds the keys to Number 10 come May should avoid tinkering with this hard won settlement – an investment that will reap social and economic benefits.”
Britpave, the transport infrastructure group, has welcomed the publication of Highways England’s five-year plan as a positive long-term plan for the future.
Chairman James Charlesworth said: “The availability of a five year plan is welcomed as it provides a real programme of action with the necessary assured investment to support its delivery.
“This is a significant step for the UK’s road network and Britpave and its members look forward to collaborating with Highways England, as we have done with the Highways Agency, in the development and provision of long-term, low maintenance and low noise road solutions that will enable Highways England to deliver its ambitious plan.”