Roads will only be built under the next Road Investment Strategy (RIS) ‘where they are absolutely essential’, the head of Highways England has said.
Nick Harris, the government owned company’s acting CEO, told visitors to Traffex: ‘We’re already working hard on developing our business plan for the next roads period, and I’m clear that I want it to be even more collaborative than what we did for RIS 2.
‘There will of course be a huge focus on carbon and the environment. We are only going to be able to build roads where they are absolutely essential.’
He added: ‘And again, maintenance and renewal feature very strongly. We must look after the assets that we have and we must make them reliable so we can provide reliable journeys – and we have to always look for more efficient, safer ways of managing them.
‘It will feature very clearly safety and journey towards zero harm. In 2025 to 2030 we will only be 10 years away from 2040 and our aim of getting to zero. And it will also need to ensure that the digital future becomes a reality and realizing our vision of delivering the world’s leading high-speed road network, with zero carbon, and zero harm.’
Mr Harris pointed out that under the current (2020-25) RIS budget of £27.4bn, around £14bn will be spent on ‘new major projects’ with just under £11bn on maintaining and renewing ‘the assets that we already have’.
He said: ‘The mix of the projects has changed; we have fewer, bigger projects, so there are more tier one projects – those worth over £500m – and that change of mix of course is demanding new skills and approached from us.’
Mr Harris said he hoped to announce the main contractor for the A303 Stonehenge scheme later this year.
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