Changes to how major roads are managed from April 2015 yesterday (8 December 2014) took another significant step forward with the second reading of the Infrastructure Bill.
The bill provides the legal framework for the government’s £15 billion ‘Road investment strategy’. It includes major reforms to the Highways Agency.
The Highways Agency will become a government-owned company which will ensure greater certainty over the upgrades planned between now and 2021. This will save the taxpayer at least £2.6 billion over the next 10 years.
The Highways Agency will also be replaced with Highways England from April 2015. It will be responsible for delivering over 100 new road schemes between now and the end of next parliament.
Roads Minister John Hayes said:
“This government is making a transformational £15 billion worth of improvements to our road network between now and 2021. It is only right that the new government-owned company has a name that reflects its new role, as a road operator that delivers a fast, efficient and better service for road users and the country.”
A strategic road network monitor role will be undertaken by the Office of Rail Regulation, who will publish information on the performance of the new Highways England and will have the power to take action for poor performance.
The bill will also see Passenger Focus renamed Transport Focus, to provide road users with a stronger voice in how roads are managed and maintained. It is expected to receive Royal Assent by March 2015.