The Highways Agency will soon evolve into a government-owned company that will ensure a “better deal for taxpayers”, the Department for Transport has claimed. The Agency – which is currently part of the Department for Transport - is responsible for operating, maintaining and improving the strategic road network in England. This includes motorways and significant a-roads. The government has claimed that its evolution into a company will save the taxpayer more than two and a half billion pounds over ten years. It should also make it more accountable to parliament/road users. Furthermore, it will be “supported by stable, locked-in, funding that will eliminate the uncertain stop-start processes of the past”. This should enable it – and its suppliers - to have “the confidence to recruit skilled workers on longer-term contracts” to reduce running costs. The government has, in fact, committed more than twenty-four billion pounds to upgrade the roads between 2010 and 2021. This is part of the fifty-six billion pound investment in the country’s transport infrastructure. The Highways Agency company will start its operations in April 2015 and be held accountable by two forthcoming bodies. The first will “protect the interests of motorists and other road users”, the second will “oversee the roads network and watch over costs and performance”.
Transport Secretary Discusses New Highways Agency
The Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, said: “Our road network is an incredibly important national asset, but it has been neglected. This government has committed to the biggest ever investment in our roads but it is vital we have the right foundations in place to make sure this huge amount of money is spent in the most efficient way.” Mr McLoughlin concluded: “The reformed Highways Agency will be more transparent and more accountable, driving down costs as it increases efficiency. This means taxpayers get a better deal and road users get a network that is fit for the future economic demands of this country, helping to create more jobs and support business growth.”
Civil Engineering Contractors Association Discusses New Highways Agency
Alasdair Reisner, Chief Executive of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association that represents the workers that maintain the country's infrastructure, added: “In the past, the roads sector has suffered from boom-and-bust conditions that are hugely damaging to the smooth delivery of projects. These reforms will not only make the Highways Agency more efficient, but will also mean greater funding certainty for the construction sector.” He concluded: “Long-term stability and certainty of investment will give our members and the Highways Agency good visibility in planning their work, whilst providing the supply chain with greater confidence in developing its workforce to meet future demands.”