A five year delivery plan which sets out how £11 billion will be spent on improving England’s motorways and major A-roads has been published by Highways England today (26 March 2015).
The government-owned company, which replaces the Highways Agency from 1 April, will invest the money in delivering a raft of improvements to the strategic road network making it safer, improving traffic flow and reducing congestion.
Graham Dalton (pictured), 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.”
The delivery plan is the detailed response to the government’s Road Investment Strategy, a long-term approach to improving England’s major roads.
It shows how success will be measured against the performance specification set by government and how the organisation will be transformed to perform more efficiently and deliver five strategic outcomes: supporting economic growth, a safe and serviceable network, a more free-flowing network, an improved environment and a more accessible and integrated network.
It describes how Highways England will:
• Develop a new standard for our busiest A roads known as expressways to provide a similar standard of journey expected on our motorways with improved junctions, emergency refuge bays and technology to keep traffic moving and reduce delays.
• Organise improvement and maintenance work so it minimises disruption and keeps, on average, at least 97% of the road network open
• Work with industry on emerging vehicle technology and cultivate a new and more mature safety culture that encourages good driver behaviour resulting in safer roads, vehicles and people
• Take a comprehensive approach to the environment: investing £225 million on flood resilience schemes, encouraging biodiversity around our roads by protecting and restoring nature areas and resurfacing that tackles noise pollution using low-noise surfacing at 1,150 locations
• Trial innovative technology on the network, such as wireless power transfer to electric/hybrid vehicles, wireless internet on roads in the south east and acoustic incident detection systems to improve tunnel safety even further.
Improvements over the first five years of operation will include:
• 112 major improvements, including 15 smart motorway projects providing 280 extra miles of capacity, and resurfacing the majority of the network
• Providing a more accessible road system delivering over 200 new cycling facilities and crossings, including 40 within the next year, and cycle-proofing new schemes
• Reducing the number of people killed or seriously injured on the network by 40% from the 2010 baseline.
Oversight of Highways England will come from the Office of Rail and Road, formerly Office of Rail Regulation, who will monitor the performance and efficiency of the company and Transport Focus who will act as the watchdog for road users.
Highways England will be responsible for 4,300 miles of network, including 16,000 structures, which connect communities and its customers, such as logistics and freight companies, industries, walkers, cyclists and equestrians, who travel 85 billion miles every year.