The UK Transport Minister, Andrew Jones, has announced £1.2bn (US$1.5bn) of local roads funding for the 2017-18 financial year, to enable councils across England to improve safety, repair potholes, cut congestion and improve journey times.
The funding to improve local roads includes money from the new National Productivity Investment Fund, announced in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, and the Pothole Action Fund. It also includes £75m (US$92.8m) that councils can bid for to repair and maintain local infrastructure such as bridges, street lighting and rural roads. The government has also published further information about what the funding will be spent on; it is the latest step in the economic plan to stimulate the economy and build a country that works for everyone. A key part of this is putting in place improved transport links, including better roads, to help people access work, school and services.
In a further effort to reduce the number of potholes on the country’s roads, the Department for Transport (DfT) will begin a new innovative trial in partnership with Thurrock and York Councils that could revolutionize the way potholes are identified and managed. A pothole-spotter system, mounted to refuse collection vehicles, comprising high-definition cameras, integrated GPS navigation systems and intelligent software, will be deployed to identify road surface problems before they become potholes.
The DfT will also support plans for a new motorway junction on the M11 in Essex that will help to ensure the delivery of 15,000 new homes and support the local economy. The new junction, to be known as Junction 7A, will sit to the north of Harlow, and will cut several minutes from journeys to Stansted and Cambridge. The scheme will provide better access to the motorway both for new residents and for the existing inhabitants of Harlow and Sawbridgeworth, as well as reducing congestion on the existing junction 7. The project will be part-funded by Essex County Council, and construction could begin in 2019.
The funding also includes:
£210m (US$260m) from the National Productivity Investment Fund. From this, £185m (US$228m) will be allocated to local highway authorities in England, outside London, to improve local highways and public transport networks, with the remaining £25m (US$31m) being available for safer roads to help tackle some of the most dangerous A roads;
£801m (US$986m) to be shared by local highway authorities to help improve the condition of local roads;
£70m (US$86m) to be shared by local highway authorities from the Pothole Action Fund, which will help repair over 1.3 million potholes;
£75m (US$92.4m) from the Highways Maintenance Challenge Fund to help repair and maintain local highway infrastructure.
Announcing the funding, Jones said, “Roads play a significant part in everyday life linking people with jobs and businesses with customers, which is why this government is investing record amounts improving and maintaining highways across the country to help motorists. The funding is focused on relieving congestion and providing important upgrades to ensure our roads are fit for the future.”