Motorway and major A roads improvements in England will open to traffic more quickly, under a plan to accelerate the completion of road-building projects unveiled today (Wednesday 3 November) at Highways UK.
Road users and local communities will benefit from improvements earlier than expected under the plan, which aims to reduces the time needed to develop, design, build and complete major road schemes, bringing forward completion dates.
National Highways will adopt innovations already used to accelerate the construction timetable for the A66 trans-Pennine route from nine to five years, and used on the recently completed 21-mile section of the A14 in Cambridgeshire. The aim is for the first projects that benefit from accelerated delivery processes to open for traffic by 2025.
For highway contractors and suppliers, it means developing processes that accelerate all aspects of planning and delivery. These will include identifying and standardising more efficient and faster ways of working, and bringing forward the key milestones for road users and local communities of consultations, preferred route announcements, start of works, and opening for traffic.
David Haimes, National Highways’ director of road investment for northern England who heads the acceleration programme, said: “We are aiming for a win-win for road users, highway builders and the country. We will accelerate and deliver major highways projects more quickly and efficiently. We will reduce the time it takes to develop, design, and deliver road improvements. This will require all parties to adopt new processes and modernise their approaches. And we need your support to achieve this.”
The delivery acceleration programme is part of National Highways’ ambition to deliver infrastructure more quickly. It supports the government’s build back better, levelling up agendas, as well as the country’s post-pandemic, economic recovery and moves toward a carbon net zero road network.
The changes include identifying route options more quickly, having earlier planning decisions, running processes in parallel rather than consecutively, with faster diversions by utility companies, and with funding that recognises the benefits of acceleration.
Working together with the government and suppliers, National Highways hopes to support society and the economy by building back better and faster than before, and levelling up between the regions, creating jobs and economic opportunity.
National Highways is already changing the ways it will work with the supply chain in future. The company is modernising design and construction methods for major road schemes under a separate transformation programme. It includes new digital design techniques, more modular and offsite construction with onsite assembly, better sharing and embedding of innovative ideas, a stronger focus on budget compliance when developing route options, and better processes for measuring and ensuring efficient project delivery.