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Government unveils proposals for road network overhaul

Government unveils proposals for road network overhaul

Plans for a Major Road Network featuring a number of regional routes have been outlined by the Government, including funding proposals.

Including the most strategic local routes across England, the MRN is set to receive more than £1 billion annually from the National Roads Fund.

The initial plans – outlined in a consultation that is set to run until mid-March – include ring-fencing vehicle excise duty to cover the fund.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has said the MRN will cover a similar total mileage as that currently seen to by Highways England and that regional involvement will ensure that the improvements “are of most value to the economy”.

“We propose to create a specific new funding stream which will be dedicated to investing in this network and raising the performance standards which motorists experience on it,” he explained.

How will it work?

Local authorities will still have the same levels of responsibility as currently, but under the proposals they will need to submit plans for schemes of between £20 million and £50 million to either regional groups or transport bodies, although in exceptional circumstances, that figure could be increased to £100 million.

Suitable schemes would then be chosen based on Regional Evidence Bases, with the transport secretary then allocating funding via a MRN Investment Programme.

Both the Regional Evidence Bases and MRN Investment Programme will be reviewed every two years, while the overall MRN will be reviewed every five in line with the current Road Investment Strategy cycle.

Local authorities will then be responsible for delivering the schemes once they are part of the MRN Investment Programme.

What will be included?

Bypasses to reduce congestion, missing link roads to join parts of the MRN network, widening existing MRN routes, junction improvements and major structural works are among the schemes that will be eligible for funding.

Efforts to improve traffic management with Smart roads and technologies will also be included, as long as an authority can adequately showcase the benefits such a move will bring.

The Government has outlined key assessment criteria for MRN schemes, which are outlined below:

  • Reduce congestion
  • Boosting economic growth and regional rebalancing
  • Supporting housing delivery
  • Aiding all road users
  • Supporting the Strategic Road Network

Once finalised with local authorities and other regional bodies, the MRN Programme will launch this summer.

For more information on our central government and transport practice, please visit our practice page

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