27 Mar 2008 12:29 PM
Highways Agency business plan 2008-09:Creating a more sustainable, reliable and safer road network

HIGHWAYS AGENCY News Release (HA-18-08) issued by The Government News Network on 27 March 2008

The Highways Agency has today published its annual Business Plan for 2008-09, setting out how it plans to create a more sustainable, reliable and safer strategic road network.

Building on the successful trial of Active Traffic Management (ATM) on the M42, the Agency will extend hard-shoulder running on motorways around Birmingham, as well as introducing measures such as CCTV, queue detection systems and variable message signs on other parts of the network.

The Agency will also carry out major improvements where they are most needed. In 2008-09 it will complete 15 major road schemes - including the M1 J6a to J10 widening scheme - and develop a further two schemes into the construction phase. It also plans to award the 30-year private finance contract (in excess of £5 billion) to design, build, finance and operate more than 63 miles of the M25.

A fundamental part of the Agency's work between now and 2011 will be to develop and deliver pioneering solutions to manage trunk road journeys, whilst understanding and controlling our impacts on the environment.

Archie Robertson, Highways Agency Chief Executive, said:

"This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the first stretch of completed motorway. The people who built our roads then would be astonished to see the volume of freight and passenger journeys that they carry now.

"As we look forward to 2011 it is clear our aims are to provide the information and infrastructure necessary to help these drivers use our roads in a safe and reliable way, whilst also taking the steps necessary to tackle the impact this may have on the environment."

Key measures in the business plan are:

* Introducing new technology to help keep traffic moving and cut delays by building on the successful trial of Active Traffic Management;

* Developing the Highways Agency Traffic Officer Service, including letting a new contract to remove abandoned and broken-down vehicles more quickly. The service has already made a big difference to our customers, dealing with an average 850 incidents a day;

* Developing our information services, including further roll out of Traffic Radio, wider use of CCTV and displaying travel and delay times on more variable message signs on the network.

* Making best use of our network by using existing and new technology to tackle congestion and improve road safety, including:

* Covering an additional 124 miles of the network with automatic queue protection equipment to warn drivers of queues ahead.

* Researching the feasibility of introducing laser and radar technology to enhance our ability to detect incidents.

* Introducing technology at 13 sites across the network to detect overweight lorries, as part of a partnership with VOSA and the police.

* Introducing more HGV overtaking restrictions on appropriate stretches of the network over the next three years. This follows a successful trial on the M42, where the ban helped to keep traffic moving and reduced accidents.

A copy of the Business Plan will be available from http://www.highways.gov.uk


1. The Highways Agency is an executive agency of the Department for Transport. It manages, maintains and improves England's motorways and trunk roads on behalf of the Secretary of State.

2. Real -time traffic information for England's motorways and major A roads is now available:
* From our new Traffic Radio service, available on DAB digital radio and the internet at http://www.trafficradio.org.uk To tune into the DAB service, simply press the 'scan' button on your radio. The radio will tune into all available channels and you can select the new service by scrolling through the channels until you reach 'Traffic Radio'.
* On the internet at http://www.highways.gov.uk/trafficinfo
* By phone from the Highways Agency 24-hour voice activated phone service on 08700 660 115. (Calls from BT landlines to 0870 numbers will cost no more than 8p per minute; mobile calls usually cost more).

3. Before using a mobile, find a safe place to park. Never stop on the hard shoulder of a motorway except in an emergency. Make sure it's safe and legal before you call.

4. For more general information about the Highways Agency and its work, visit the Highways Agency website http://www.highways.gov.uk or telephone the Highways Agency Information Line on 08457 50 40 30 at any time. (Calls to 0845 numbers cost no more than 3p/min from BT residential landlines. Call charges from other landlines and mobile networks may vary).

Issued by the Highways Agency Press Office.