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massive investment in uk highways announced.

DfT unveils £40bn road pipeline

The new work opportunities will come onstream over the next decade, with the DfT publishing details of 125 major contracts to be put to market by the National Highways. The rebranding of Highways England signals a new era for the country's strategic road network.

Details of contracts published this week include the £8.7bn renewal of the Regional Delivery Partner frameworks, and a further £7.1bn of work through the scheme delivery framework, which is expected to go to market next month and be renewed in 2027.

An estimated £3.6bn in contracts for the Lower Thames Crossing is included in the pipeline: a tunnels and approaches contract worth £2.3bn and a £1.3bn deal for roads to the north of the project.

The pipeline was given a boost last month when a High Court judge rules that Transport Secretary Grant Schapps had not acted illegally in approving the £27.4bn Road Investment Strategy.

High-value one-offs

Apart from mega-projects like the Lower Thames Crossing, there are a number of high-value projects including a scheme to upgrade the A1 between Doncaster and Darrington worth £1.2bn. Other work in the north includes the long-awaited improvements contract for the A66 Northern Trans-Pennine. The contract will go to market in August 2024 and is valued at £773m.

Contracts for technical surveys and testing packages will go live in August, while September will see a £7m deal for professional services associated with the Lower Thames Crossing enter the procurement phase.

The value of the ten biggest deals tops £25.6bn and will roll out over the next 10 years as part of the government's RIS2.

Delivering RIS2

The new pipeline is one of the steps envisioned in the RIS2 document to achieve the strategic vision outlined in the 2020 report. The SRN is intended to be a critical driver in 'levelling up' the country and creating the required economic infrastructure.

The strategy will be delivered by the newly rebranded National Highways under the leadership of Nick Harris, who assumed the post temporarily in February. Transport Secretary Grant Schapps said that Harris would lead the newly rebranded National Highways into 'an exciting new chapter.' The minister said he expected Harris to deliver on the £27bn plan to make the road network smoother, safer and greener.

National Highways will remain in overall charge of the road network in England.

Harris said he was pleased to be formally taking over the reins at such an exciting time for the rebranded agency. He said that while Highways England had achieved a great deal there was more to be done to deliver the second roads investment strategy.

Harris also emphasised that the safety of road users and the wellbeing of communities was at the heart of the strategy and that the delivery of work for the benefit of customers remains at the heart of the organisation.

According to the latest report on Highways England performance, the agency achieved a string of positive KPIs, including 98% network availability and clearing 88.6% of incidents within one hour against a target of 86%. National Highways is currently focused on their role in the development process for RIS3 to cover the period from 2025-2030.

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