Highways England backs MRN concept

Highways England has said it is ‘very supportive’ of the major road network (MRN) concept, while contractors have stressed that more needs to be done for local roads.

Under the proposals 5,000 miles of strategic local roads and A roads will be eligible for new funding from the planned National Roads Fund for upgrades and improvements.

From 2020 the National Roads Fund will be paid for by Vehicle Excise Duty, which raised about £6bn last year.  Highways England said it would share intelligence with other local authorities to help support the development of the MRN.

In response to the Government’s consultation on its MRN plans, a spokesperson for Highways England told Highways: ‘We are very supportive of the concept of the Major Roads Network. We are keen to see this second tier of roads appropriately funded and new schemes for them coming forward.

‘We are offering our new economic analysis tools and contracting frameworks to other highways authorities and the Department for Transport to help facilitate the network’s development.’

Elsewhere, contractors in the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA) were more cautious in their support for the plans, highlighting the challenges faced elsewhere on the local road network.

Howard Robinson, RSTA chief executive, said: ‘For decades the local road network has suffered from under-investment and, despite the fact that they represent 97% [or 98%] of the UK road network, continue to deteriorate due to insufficient funds to support planned maintenance.

‘The proposals to increase investment in a network of major A roads is welcomed, but what of the roads that connect these? Are those A roads that are not part of the proposed network and the B roads that connect these to be left to deteriorate still further?’

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