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Stop Building New Strategic Roads, says Transport Committee

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The House of Commons Transport Committee has told the UK government to cancel complex expansion projects on the Strategic Road Network (SRN), and to prioritise day-to-day maintenance instead.

National Highways oversees the SRN, which is 4,300 miles of motorways and major A roads.

Over-Ambitious Plans in RIS1 and RIS2

In Roads Investment Strategy 1 (RIS1), National Highways overspent and underdelivered, but then became even more ambitious in RIS2.

The projects in the two strategies included creating new lanes and roads. These schemes were beset by delays and overspend, partly due to legal challenges on environmental grounds.

The road haulage sector is enthusiastic about strategic road-building, but a majority of road users want the government to prioritise maintenance – keeping the network in good, safe condition – over expansion.

Capacity and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The government seems to believe that road-building drives growth and productivity, but in reality investment in other modes of transport results in better economic payback.

The UK’s commitment to decarbonising transport relies on a rapid switch to electric vehicles.

The switch isn’t happening fast enough to mitigate the predicted increase in traffic on the SRN, so the government should look at managing future congestion levels not expanding capacity.

This should involve modelling and reporting on future scenarios where demand for the SRN is managed.

Reporting and Transparency

The Committee had to cross-reference multiple documents to assess delivery progress of the RIS, according to the Report Summary.

Assessing and reporting would be helped by a National Highways dashboard with up-to-date information on each SRN project.

Stop Building New Strategic Roads, says Transport Committee