Ministers are pushing forward with nearly £200m for local authority roads, including launching next year’s £151m highways maintenance Incentive Fund and confirming £46m additional pothole cash.
This is a crunch year for the Incentive Fund. As previously announced, it will be worth £151m in 2018/19 – double this year’s allocation – and councils could lose up to 70% of their incentive element funding.
DfT officials have already said this will be based on the existing self-assessment process, although this may change next year.
The government also announced a new £500,000 competition to challenge councils to develop pilot projects of new connected technologies to collect road condition and pothole data.
In the Budget, the Treasury announced that the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) will also launch a separate new innovation prize to determine how future road building should adapt to support self-driving cars.
Roads minister Jesse Norman said: ‘People need great roads to get about, do business and see friends and family. We’re investing record amounts at present to improve the condition of our roads, so drivers and cyclists don’t have to dodge potholes to travel safely.
‘We’re also looking at how new innovations can help councils keep their roads in the best condition, saving money and planning their maintenance better.’
The new competition will fund local authority projects costing between £30,000 and £100,000 that:
- demonstrate the capability of connected vehicle data;
- improve the quality of road condition and asset management data;
- provide the business case for more widespread deployment across a number of highway authorities;
- enable the development of smart asset strategies based on harvested intelligence; and
- help support innovation within the private sector supply chain
The DfT said the extra £46m Pothole Fund cash announced at the Budget is new money and will be on top of the £75m previously announced for this year. The cash will allow more a million more potholes to be repaired by highway authorities in England, outside London.
A further £4m will enable the Cycle Rail Programme to continue to be funded next year. The project pays for cycle parking at stations.
The pilot Cycling and Walking to Work fund will also be extended by six months, with Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and Liverpool benefiting from a share of £1.6m.