New Body Vows Road Improvements
For every £1 spent on roads there will be £4 in wider benefits to the economy – that’s the promise from the new body responsible for England’s major highways. Highways England, a new government-owned company, officially takes over from the Highways Agency in running England’s 4,300-mile motorway and major A road network from April 1.
Highways England has said that, as part of a £11 billion package of improvements, there would be 112 major improvements over the first five years, including lane alteration to provide 280 extra miles of capacity on motorways. Also, much of the major road network will be resurfaced, there will be more than 200 new cycling facilities and crossings and a target to reduce by 40% the number of people killed or seriously injured on major routes compared with a 2010 baseline figure.
The new highways body will also be turning some of the busiest A roads into expressways, or mini motorways, in which traffic will be much more free-flowing than now, through junction improvements and emergency refuge bays. It also aims to improve the organisation of maintenance work so that, on average, at least 97% of the major road network is open at any one time.
Highways England chief executive Graham Dalton 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.”