busy road motorway

Maintaining and improving existing road network to take priority over new projects

National Highways has proposed focusing on making the most of England’s existing road network through maintenance and improvement works, rather than engaging in new-build projects.

The government-owned company is charged with operating, maintaining and improving motorways and major A-roads in England.

Laying out proposals for the 2025-2030 period in a new report, National Highways said it wanted to improve the road experience with digital technologies as well as readying the 4,500-mile network for connected and autonomous vehicles.

The digital efforts will see road users being given access to more real-time and personalised information covering congestion, on-going incidents, planned roadworks and events.

It also plans to install around 2,500 open-access rapid charge points for electric vehicles by 2030.

The report also outlines the challenges facing the nation’s increasingly busy roads and how investment can help tackle congestion and smooth traffic flow.

Most motorways were built in the 1960s and 1970s and now require extensive renewal, while National Highways also needs to ensure performance and safety levels are maintained in the face of increased exposure to severe weather.  

National Highways also said it wanted to increase “proactive maintenance” by fixing problems before they emerge with the aim of reducing large repairs and disruption on the network.

Efforts will be made to support biodiversity through initiatives such as the planting of an additional 3 million trees up to 2030. 

By 2030, the firm hopes that maintenance and construction emissions will be cut by up to 50 per cent by minimising new works, using lean construction practices and carbon management approaches.

The company’s own corporate emissions will also be cut to net zero by 2030 – without the use of purchased offsetting – through the transition to renewable energy; converting most road lighting to low-energy LEDs, and other initiatives such as transitioning all traffic officer vehicles to electric power.

National Highways' 'Initial Report' will now be subject to an eight-week consultation by the Department for Transport.

Roads minister Richard Holden said: “Our roads are vital to our economy and the plans set out today will help to enhance connectivity and boost growth, while protecting the environment. Working with National Highways, we are committed to delivering safe, reliable journeys and reducing congestion in a way supports our path to net zero.”

Nick Harris, National Highways’ chief executive, said: “Our network of motorways and A-roads has a critical role to play over the next 30 years in supporting growth and levelling up. They bind together the regions and nations of the UK, facilitating national and international trade, and even under conservative forecasts demand for the network will continue to increase up to 2050.”

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