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National Highways Steps Up Road Building Schemes

National Highways (formerly Highways England), the government-owned company that maintains the major roads and motorways, has announced that it is accelerating plans for major road improvements and new road schemes. New Civil Engineer reports that the company aims to get roads open more quickly.

Among the new pledges is the amendment of the construction timetable for the £1bn A66 trans-Pennine route from nine to five years. The 50-mile route, between Cumbria and Yorkshire, will have sections of single carriageway dualled. Five new bypasses will be added, and key junctions improved.

National Highways director of road investment for northern England David Haimes, who also heads the acceleration programme, said: “We are aiming for a win-win for road users, highway builders and the country.”

He added: “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.”

Further new initiatives include identifying route options more quickly, speeding up the decision-making process, and running operations side by side, rather than one after the other. The agency is also looking to develop new, more efficient ways of working, and embed this as standard practice for every new project.

The procurement, design and construction processes will also be examined, and modernised where possible, for example, by using digital design techniques. Aims to improve budget compliance were also put forward, despite the fact that the acceleration of the A66 improvements has led to a 28% jump in costs.

Recent major schemes, such as the Stonehenge Tunnel and the Lower Thames Crossing, have been plagued with delays and controversy, which the agency will hope to avoid in the future.


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