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Highways Agency blames DfT for congestion busting caution

HIGHWAYS AGENCY frustration with government's delaying tactics surfaced last week when chief executive Archie Robertson told MPs of 'bureaucracy and risk aversion' within the Department for Transport (DfT).

Robertson told a Commons select committee that congestion busting initiatives like carsharing lanes could have been introduced sooner were it not for budget cuts and bureaucracy within DfT.

'There is an element of unwillingness to try out in government. Some things have been held back by bureaucracy and risk aversion, ' he said.

'There is one other painfully obvious point, ' he added. 'I always have more good projects than resources.'

Robertson's comments came during hostile cross-questioning by the public accounts committee. The committee was examining claims made by the National Audit Office that the Agency has been too cautious in introducing congestion busting measures (NCE 2 December).

Committee chairman Edward Leigh went on the offensive after Robertson insisted there was no business case for initiatives such as tidal flow schemes and ramp metering.

'Your answer seems very complacent, ' said Leigh. 'I find disappointing your attitude against initiatives used widely overseas.'

Plans to introduce Britain's first high occupancy vehicle motorway lane on the M1 between junctions 7 and 10 were announced by transport secretary Alistair Darling last week.

But Roberston told the committee he wants to install 30 such lanes across the trunk road network.

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