Highways England to publish first part of UK’s updated road design manual in 2018


Highways England (HE), the government-owned company that looks after England’s strategic network of motorways and major A-roads, is set to release an updated set of road design standards in 2018, for use across the UK.

Experts with responsibility for the country’s Strategic Road Network (SRN) are updating the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB), to make it easier for designers to understand and use. The DMRB is a cornerstone of the delivery and management of motorway and all-purpose trunk roads across the UK, and is a respected document used across the globe. The modified standards are being published in phases, with the first set being released in 2018, and the full update to be completed by the end of March 2020. The re-drafting will be completed using a revolutionary online authoring tool, signaling an important move to digital technology, making future updates potentially more straightforward.

In April 2015, HE began working on a project to review and update the complete suite of over 350 documents and associated Interim Advice Notes (IANs) that make up the manual. Over the years, the existing DMRB has become difficult to use due to the many revisions and variations in language and style. Following a consultation with key stakeholders, several changes have been implemented, including a new set of drafting rules that follow best practice from national and international standardization organizations. The governance processes are also being updated to streamline the development of the standards and make it more efficient.

The new manual will also be easier to produce and maintain. Requirements and advice will be easier to distinguish, resulting in fewer departures from the standards required for new schemes and the time/cost associated with these. HE is being supported in this extremely ambitious and demanding program by several leading UK consultants, which will provide world class expertise, ensuring that the manual is fit for the future.

“We are the recognized authority for road design, building and maintenance, and our standards are used across the globe,” noted HE’s chief highway engineer, Mike Wilson. “This is an exciting time for the highways sector, and we are delighted to be able to start releasing the first updates to this crucially important document. We are grateful to our partners in the industry who have supported this significant review that will ensure our roads are designed, built, and maintained, to the very highest, safest standards.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).