Highways England had a successful RIS1, but there is more work to do, says its Chief Executive

Highways England responded well to the Covid-19 pandemic to enable a business as usual approach to 2019/20 delivery, as it did through the whole of Roads Period 1, but there is more work to do, according to its Chief Executive, Jim O’Sullivan.

In the foreword to the organisation’s annual report, Mr O’Sullivan said: “I am proud of how we responded to this challenge, and especially proud of our critical workers who enabled the safe travel of NHS and other emergency service workers, as well as the timely delivery of essential goods. We were able to meet all our in-year objectives and first road period commitments, while also supporting our staff and supply chain to move to new ways of working.”

Commenting further on the report, Mr O’Sullivan said: “Highways England has made great progress in our first road period (2015–20). We can be pleased with what we have achieved in this final year of RIS1, and we
recognise and embrace the significant challenges to come in the next five-year road investment period and beyond.”

He added: ” One of our key successes in this financial year was our £1.3 billion A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon scheme. We completed the 12-mile bypass between Swavesey and Ellington in December 2019, a year ahead of schedule. The rest of the scheme is due to open for traffic in May 2020, eight months early and on budget.”

“This bodes well for the next major schemes in our pipeline, including the £850 million M4 smart motorway. It also sets us up well for our other transformational schemes, such as the Lower Thames Crossing and A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down, which are both due to start in the second road
period.

“As we look to the future, we must recognise how far we have come as well as how much there is still to do. We need to demonstrate that we can meet government’s commitment to zero carbon and within its committed timescales. We also need to exploit the full potential of the digital revolution, both in our activities, and in our communications with road users and stakeholders,” Mr O’Sullivan added.

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