Highways England Interim Chief Executive Nick Harris has called on the whole supply chain to ‘help us create a greener, safer, digital future for the national road network, as it launches its new Innovation and Research Strategy.
Design, construction and maintenance, connected and autonomous vehicles, customer mobility, energy and environment and operations are all central to Highways England’s innovation and research aims aligned to its key challenges and functions both now and in the future.
These are driven by wider ambitions for the organisation to be net zero by 2050, to have zero harm by 2040 and to deliver cheaper, faster construction by 2030 and connected journeys by 2035, according to Mr Harris.
The strategy, said Mr Harris, descibes HE’s ambitions for how it will develop the future road network and how it will work towards building Highways England as a centre of excellence for research and development.
Speaking at Traffex this week, Mr Harris said: “This is the biggest ever investment in strategic roads over this five year period, and around £14 billion of that has been spent on new major projects. Just under £11bn is being spent on maintaining and renewing the assets that we already have. The mix of the projects has changed and that and that change a mix, of course is demanding new skills and approaches from us.”
Safety was also a crucial part of future research and development, he said. “The safety of everyone using our roads, and our workforce remains our first imperative. We must keep everyone working and travelling safe, and we will work to prevent incidents from occurring to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on the network by 50%. So how are we going to achieve this reduction? By working in partnership with the people using our roads, with vehicle manufacturers, and ourselves in the supply chain to deliver safer roads, making sure we’re understanding the causes of accidents.”