Engineers hailed a new era in road project delivery as Highways England was launched today.
The body – a company separate from, but owned by, the government – replaces the Highways Agency, which sat within the Department for Transport.
The long awaited move is aimed at saving taxpayers more than £2.5bn over the next decade and making road management more accountable to Parliament.
Plans to spend £11bn on the roads over the next five years, while keeping an average of 97% of the network open, were published last week.
Institution of Civil Engineers director-general Nick Baveystock said: “Today marks the end of costly and inefficient ‘stop start’ investment in our road network, and the beginning of a multi-year investment plan geared to meet long term objectives for our roads, and ultimately benefit the economy by tackling congestion more effectively and creating new jobs and apprenticeships.”
Roads firms were urged to focus on skills to make the most of the move.
Baveystock said: “Industry needs to respond to the better certainty of demand by developing its people and capabilities.
“The changes also come on the cusp of a general election. Whoever holds the keys to Number 10 come May should avoid tinkering with this hard won settlement – an investment that will reap social and economic benefits.”