Cost escalation on major projects meant that that Highways Agency failed to meet its target for delivery of major road schemes last year, according to its annual report published yesterday.
Delivery was held up by a major review of the causes of the Agency's cost increases. This was prompted earlier in the year by recommendations of the Nichols review into major project delivery and by a critical National Audit Office study. 'We know there is room to improve, so we are implementing a series of measures to address the issues raised by Nichols and the National Audit Office,' said Agency chief executive Archie Robertson. 'The review process will make sure we are taking forward only those projects with a sound business case and best value for money.'Elsewhere the annual review showed that the Highways Agency had met or exceeded all of its other ministerial targets for managing England's motorways and major A roads.It highlighted that its new Traffic Officer service was now at full operational capability and that it had successfully trialled demand management measures such as using the hard shoulder of the M42 near Birmingham as a traffic lane during peak periods.'Our customers are making more use of the strategic road network, but against a backdrop of increasing demand we continue to help our customers by providing safer, more reliable journeys and better information services,' said Robertson.'We know it's vital to balance the demands of road users with a sustainable future, and to make the best use of existing road space.Achievements highlighted by the Highways Agency's annual report include:- 11 major road schemes opened.- Safety on the roads improved- Traffic Officer service achieved full capability. - Controlled opening of the hard shoulder on the M42 near Birmingham as part of the Active Traffic Management pilot, in September 2006.- Developing three new driver information services for delivery in 2007.