Highways England has published the 18 route strategies that will lay the ground for what will be in its next funding period.
The 18 route strategies give its supply chain the first indications of where it sees work needs to be done and potential schemes it will investigate further. These schemes are likely to form the second road investment strategy (RIS2). Each of the studies covers a specific route, which in turn, takes in all the roads Highways England covers.
Each study takes a section of the route and looks at the current pressures, for example on the A52 from Derby to Nottingham, it says linking rods such as the M1 and A453 and other links to the planned HS2 Phase 2 Hub station could be affected by the poor performance of this road, and could hit the area’s economic growth, therefore the road needs to be looked at. Likewise, the HS2 Phase 1 route runs close to and crosses on the M42 at three points between junctions 6 to 10 and this needs to be prepared for the future.
The M4 Corridor between junctions 18 to 22 is one of the worst parts of the network for journey delays, with a projected 23% population increase by 2026.
Following the publication of these route strategies, Highways England will produce its strategic business plan to be put forward to the Office of Rail and Road for review.
RIS2 will already see some schemes from RIS1 deferred into the period. In the ORR’s latest update on Highways England’s capital planning and asset management, it lays out its concerns with the current capital plan from Highways England. The plan assumes 60 major schemes will start construction in the final year of Road Period 1, but the ORR says there is limited evidence this assumption is ‘deliverable or efficient’. In addition, it says Highways England has not fully demonstrated that the plans are affordable.
In addition, there is an £800M disparity between what Highways England forecasts it will spend before the end of Road Period 1 in 2020 and the funding it actually has.