With a snap general election having been put in place for June, one motoring organisation is calling on the government to protect investment in the UK’s road network.
The RAC has outlined a series of motoring priorities that it would like the government to support ahead of – and after – the election. Among them is to protect the funding for Road Investment Strategy 2 (RIS2).
RIS saw £15 billion dedicated to making improvements to the country’s road network, including the introduction of smart motorways. RIS2, which is due to start in 2021, will see a new wave of investment in key infrastructure projects and the RAC is keen that this is honoured regardless of which party is elected in June.
As part of the proposals initially outlined by George Osborne during his time as chancellor, Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) is set to be ring fenced from 2021, with all the money raised from this tax going back into the UK’s highways.
RIS2 is in its early stage of research, with the government stating that it intends to follow the same process as used for RIS – namely research to identify suitable schemes, decisions on which schemes to fund and mobilisation of the resources to carry out work.
The Department for Transport, the Office of Road and Rail, and Transport Focus are currently working together to gather the evidence required to enable them to determine the best value for money for the taxpayer, as well as to then prepare for work to begin.
A number of strategy documents – most notably Route Strategies and Strategic Studies – will feed into this process. These documents identify constraints in our current road network, as well as highlighting areas that require longer-term plans.
Earlier this month, Fleet News reported that the first plan for RIS2 will be published this summer, according to Highways England chief executive Jim O’Sullivan.
Last month, Mr O’Sullivan told a Westminster Energy, Environment and Transport Forum seminar that all 112 named road schemes under RIS are on course to start by 2020.
The aim is to enable Highways England to take a longer-term and more strategic approach to investment by moving it away from an annual budget.
“I want to see a five-year programme of renewal, a five-year programme of capital renewals and a five-year programme for new schemes. That will bring stability to the supply chain,” Mr O’Sullivan stated.
The government set out five key aims for the country’s strategic road network (SRN) when it unveiled RIS. These were economy, safety, integration, environment and network capability, all of which are expected to be retained into RIS2.
In addition RIS2 will look at seven other challenges, including journey times with congestion relief highlighted as key; roadside facilities, particularly for lorry drivers; surface quality, signage and lighting; and information around roadworks and incidents.
The theme of safety will be extended to cover other drivers’ behaviour, while looking at provision for cyclists and pedestrians either along or crossing the SRN is also part of the plan. The other issue RIS2 is set to address is integration of the SRN with other roads, including when it comes to diversions.
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