Highways England, operator of one of the world’s most advanced road networks, completed seven major schemes valued at more than £800m in the last year and has announced a further 15 will start or open in 2017/18.
The programme outlined in its Delivery Plan Update published today will improve journeys for motorists, businesses and hauliers across the country. The huge programme of improvements – part of the biggest Government investment in the road network since the 1970s – will cut congestion, and get people safely to their destinations more quickly.
Jim O’Sullivan, Highways England Chief Executive, said: “We care about our road users’ journeys and are working hard to improve them, making good progress delivering the Government’s £15bn Road Investment Strategy. Also, we recognise the impact doing all this work has on road users while it is happening and so we have taken steps like shortening roadworks and providing better journey information to improve their experience. And we will reinforce our focus on safety, customer service and delivery as we press ahead shaping the next Road Investment Strategy 2020-2025.”
Major schemes that we plan to start in 2017/18 include smart motorways between junctions three and five on the M20 near Maidstone, and on the M6 around Coventry.
Improvements scheduled to open to traffic include a smart motorway on parts of the M60 and M62 in Greater Manchester, and an upgrade of the A1 between Leeming and Barton in the North East.
Since April 2017 Highways England has opened four more major road improvements to road users. Work now continues on a further 16 schemes currently in construction. These include the £1.4bn Cambridge to Huntingdon scheme where besides the road improvement, the company has partnered with a training academy to create a dedicated training and apprenticeship course to support local skills through this scheme and beyond.
Highways England will also use extra £220m investment announced in the 2016 Autumn Statement to improve safety, increase capacity and reduce journey times on some of our most heavily congested roundabouts, junctions and slip roads.
Since it was created in April 2015 Highways England has delivered almost £4bn worth of capital investment on motorways and main trunk roads, completing 16 schemes on or ahead of schedule, adding more than 175 lane miles of much-needed capacity.
Among the improvements completed in 2016/17 were increased capacity on the A1 between Coal House and Metro Centre near Newcastle tackling congestion and benefiting the 116,000 drivers that use the A1 every day, easing congestion at the busy junction 30 of the M25, helping unlock the multi-billion pound regeneration of the Lower Thames Valley; and upgrading the interchange, between the M1, M6 and A14 at Catthorpe which is used by more than 45,000 vehicles every day.
The company’s Annual Report shows it has also contributed £40m from its Growth and Housing Fund to 13 improvements that will unlock the opportunity to create 22,000 new homes and more than 34,000 jobs.
Highways England remains confident it will deliver its Delivery Plan commitment and will continue to look at ways of optimising its delivery programme to ensure investment delivers good value for taxpayers’ money and minimises as far as possible disruption to road users. Any proposals to further enhance its capital investment programme will be presented to the Department for Transport and be managed through the formal change control process as included in the company’s licence.