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... and restructures to cope with extra load

THE HIGHWAYS Agency is recruiting 100 staff to cope with extra work resulting from new starts, the detrunking of strategic routes and the Government's integrated transport policy.

The Agency is also creating two new administrative regions as part of a plan to develop closer links with local authorities and regional planning bodies.

Of the 100 staff to be recruited, 50 are expected to be civil engineers. They will work on new projects and on the transfer of trunk roads to county councils.

Expansion of the Agency's 1,600 staff follows the Government's decision to go ahead with £1.4bn programme of 37 targeted road schemes between now and the end of March 2006 (NCE 6/13 August 1998).

The Agency is also shrinking its Midlands operations, while the southern administrative region will be split into two, each taking responsibility for parts of the south midlands.

The new regions are shaped to follow the county boundaries lining their borders. Previous regional divisions reflected a more national approach to trunk road development.

The new structure has emerged because the Government is transforming the Agency from trunk road builder to road network maintainer and operator under the integrated transport policy set out in the New Deal for Transport White Paper.

As such the Agency expects to devote more resources to consultation with transport companies and local communities.

'We are planning to contact every parish council with a trunk road running through it,' said Agency director Bill Wadrup, who devised the restructuring and expansion programme.

The extra resources will allow some staff to concentrate on developing road projects while others carry out liaison work.

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