The way England’s motorways and A-roads are built and managed is set to change next month after the government announced the ‘go-live’ of Highways England.
Highways England is a new arms-length government company that will take over running motorways and major trunk roads from the Highways Agency on 1 April.
The new company will have new longer-term funding, to enable it to plan ahead and invest in skills and equipment to speed up work and drive down costs.
The move is part of a package of road reform that is expected to save at least £2.6bn over the next 10 years.
Transport minister John Hayes said: “This marks a significant way forward in how our strategic road network is delivered and managed.
“These reforms will mean the biggest, boldest and most far-reaching roads upgrade for decades. Ensuring we have well maintained roads and motorways is essential to a modern transport system that will boost our economy, create jobs and give more choice about where we live and work whilst delivering billions in savings.
“I am clear that government will set the strategy, gauge its implementation and direct necessary changes. Highways England will be answerable to Parliament, fully accountable for its work and will report to ministers.”
The government’s Autumn Statement in December announced the ‘Road investment strategy’, which set out how Highways England will spend £15.2bn on 84 new national road projects to help enhance connectivity.
In addition the government has announced plans to tackle longstanding problems including a new strategic corridor to the south west via the A303, including a 1.8-mile tunnel at Stonehenge, a long-term commitment of around £2 billion.
The ‘Road investment strategy’ included a commitment of £4.5bn to add an extra lane to key motorways to boost connectivity between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Yorkshire.
Other measures include nine major improvements along the A1 from Berwick to London, taking it to motorway standard through Yorkshire and extending the continuous dual carriageway 24 miles further north, part of £2.3bn worth of new investment in Yorkshire and the north east.