Next phase of £10bn upgrade to UK highways revealed


National Highways has laid out a five-year road maintenance and upgrade strategy for consideration by central government.   

The Strategic Road Network Initial Report for 2025-2030 urges ministers to allocate continuing funding to an iterative programme spanning 4,500 miles of motorways and major A-roads in England. 

While part of its proposal focuses on prioritising improvement works to most of the existing network, other aspects recommend uptake of digital technologies, preparation for connected and autonomous vehicles, and active travel schemes 

Many motorways were built in the 1960s and 70s and require extensive renewal.  

National Highways (NH) aims to improve performance and safety levels, while tackling congestion issues and surface exposure to severe weather.     

“The 4,500-mile network carries around four million vehicles a day – providing links to all major ports and airports – and the report says continuing funding is needed to support the safe, efficient movement of people and goods,” it said. 

Initial Report – key takeaways 

  • Targeted upgrades to single carriageway A-roads, initially focusing on 17 routes covering 147 miles. 
  • Tackling known safety and congestion areas with cost value between £2 million to £25 million, via new slip roads and junctions. 
  • Real-time digital information about incidents. 
  • Factoring lorry parking into design and planning of projects where a need is identified. 
  • 2,500 electric vehicle (EV) charging points by 2030. 
  • Investing in land and infrastructure for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. 
  • Increasing proactive maintenance – fixing problems before they emerge. 
  • Improving roadworker safety via autonomous plant on site.  
  • Planting 3 million trees by 2030.   

Supporting publications 

  • Connecting the Country – long-term strategy which sets out NH’s priorities up to 2050. 
  • Route Strategies – evidence-based performance of the network to identify issues and potential future challenges.  
  • Environmental Sustainability Strategy – long-term vision to manage roads in a more sustainable way.  

Cutting emissions  

By 2030, maintenance and construction emissions on NH projects will be cut by up to 50% 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, it said. 

“National Highways will propose continuing to take sustained action to cut carbon emissions at every opportunity,” said NH. 

The initial report will be subject to an eight-week consultation by the Department for Transport (DfT) for the third road period (2025-2030). 

NH estimates the second road period (2020-2025) created up to 64,000 construction jobs and added £27 billion to the economy, via a £10.5 billion programme.    

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