UK to spend over $24bn on upgrading and improving road network until 2021

Britain’s road network is to benefit from major improvements over the next 8 years and road building companies are advised to prepare for a huge increase in work as a result of a GBP24bn investment in the road network, the UK government’s Department for Transport revealed on Monday.

The government is to triple funding on upgrades and improvements to the UK’s road network until 2021, reportedly the largest investment made in the UK’s road network since the 1970s.

Locked-in funding commitments of an annual spend of GBP3bn on improvements and maintenance for the strategic network alone will support almost 30,000 new jobs in the construction sector.

Major improvements will be made to strategic roads from 2015 to 2020/21 as a result of an investment of GBP10.7bn and the government is also planning to spend GBP6.1bn on resurfacing 80% of the strategic network. A further GBP6bn will be being spent on repairing potholes on local authority roads.

Under the spending reforms, the Highways Agency will be turned into a government-owned company, which will help to improve commercial efficiency and cut running costs. It is anticipated that road users in Britain will benefit from a more effective road network and will have a greater say in how the roads operate. Also, taxpayers are expected to benefit from savings of at least GBP2.6bn over the next 10 years.

The long-term funding was announced in the 2013 Spending Review along with the Department for Transport’s ‘Action for Roads’, a command paper that sets out the long-term vision for the road network from 2015. The funding is expected to provide the security for road building contractors to be able to make commercial decisions.

Roads Minister Robert Goodwill said:

“Funding certainty is critical to the construction industry in planning for the future and that is exactly what the government has delivered – with GBP24bn secure investment over 6 years and GBP50bn for the strategic road network over the next 15 years. However, we need to make sure everyone is ready to deliver the massive programme of investment that we need to keep Britain’s roads moving.

“To do that, we need to make sure we have the right people and equipment in place to deliver the 53 road schemes in preparation right now, plus the next generation of improvements over the next 7 years. This means taking on more apprentices and making sure suppliers have the capacity to deal with the increase in demand. If we get this right, this will provide road users with a high performing network that can cope with the expected 43% increase in traffic over the coming decades that will help boost economy growth and deliver more efficient roads for motorists.”