Transport for London (TfL) will only carry out “essential” road projects for the next two years, with the transport body admitting the move could lead to more closures and restrictions.
The announcement came as deputy mayor for London Val Shawcross launched a damning attack on government funding cuts and its decision to spend money levied on London’s drivers through Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) on projects outside the capital.
In last November’s Budget, the government revealed that from 2021, £500M raised from Londoners’ VED will be funnelled into non-London projects.
Citing financial pressure for the move to pause non-essential work, Shawcross labelled the government’s decision “astounding”, adding that TfL’s budget was already £700M a year lower following the 2015 decision to scrap its operating grant. This has meant the cost of running London’s roads would have to be increasingly subsidised by public transport farepayers.
Shawcross said as a consequence of the cuts, all non-essential road improvements would be paused for two years unless suitable funding could be found.
TfL said its investment in maintenance and renewals aimed to ensure “network safety” and provide a “serviceable level of ‘state of good repair’” for all highway assets, including carriageways, footways, traffic signals, bridges, tunnels, street lighting, drainage and trees.
It is not yet known which projects will be put on hold. TfL told New Civil Engineer that it was “not as simple as picking out individual projects”. However, it did say road network activities would need to be prioritised, using a “risk-based approach so that we get the best results for our investment”.
“While TfL will ensure roads are kept safe, this lack of proactive work could lead to an increase in disruption on the roads with increased closures and speed, size and weight restrictions,” Shawcross warned.
“Our capital is the beating heart of the UK and our roads are the arteries, so it’s just astounding that the government is not only prepared to take away vital funding but make London’s drivers pay for roads outside the capital.”