Nick Harris appointed chief executive as Highways England changes name to National Highways


Nick Harris has been confirmed as the new chief executive of the government company that builds and operates the UK’s motorways and major A-roads.

This announcement comes as Highways England and the Department for Transport (DfT) confirm that Highways England will change its name to National Highways. The new name reflects the new focus the company has on delivering the government’s £27bn (US$37bn) strategic roads investment program, while also continuing to set highways standards for the whole of the UK.

The strategic road network plays a key role in levelling up by connecting England’s regions, ports and international trade corridors.

Harris will lead the organization as it delivers this significant investment, and looks toward the future opportunities offered by automation and digitization, as well as delivering the government’s net zero target.

“I am delighted to appoint Nick Harris as our CEO,” says Dipesh J Shah OBE, Highways England Chair. “Now, more than ever, our infrastructure schemes have an important and perhaps unique role to play in helping our economy to recover. Nick’s steady hand throughout the past few months has established a solid foundation to help us on our journey to transform how we work with our supply chain, how we deliver our net zero carbon and how we realize our digitalization ambitions.”

Harris joined Highways England in 2016 and has been acting chief executive since February 2021. He has the proven track record needed to lead and transform a large and complex organization. His experience in deploying large scale contracting and supply chain management coupled with extensive operational delivery expertise will take the company forward as it delivers on the £27bn (US$37bn) investment into the strategic road network.

He will have a particular focus on continued road safety improvements and the transformation of National Highways as a global leader in road building and maintenance, as well as delivering world-class health and safety. His permanent appointment is the conclusion of a broad and rigorous recruitment process.

“I am pleased to be taking up the reins at such an exciting time,” says Harris. “We have achieved a great deal and there is still more to be done. As we deliver the second roads investment strategy ensuring the safety of all road users, the delivery of our work and the benefits to our customers remains at the centre of our organization.”

“Nick will be an excellent CEO and I’m looking forward to continuing to work closely with him as we build back better across the country,” comments transport secretary Grant Shapps. “Nick will steer Highways England into an exciting new chapter, as it evolves into National Highways and delivers on our £27bn [US$37bn] plan to improve our roads and make journeys safer, smoother and greener.”

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Lauren is a regular contributor to Traffic Technology International (TTi) and a freelance technical journalist. Over the past 15 years, she has worked on a wide variety of B2B publications and websites, including a stint as deputy editor of Traffic Technology International from 2014-2016. She has a degree in English from the University of Exeter. Lauren is mum to two busy little girls. She is always in demand!