UK roads authorities and their suppliers are facing significant technical, political and financial challenges. They need to deliver a more sophisticated roads infrastructure in a safe, quick and cost-effective way. To meet these challenges they will need to do things differently – more of the same will not be enough. They will need to innovate and embrace new approaches. The good news is that if the sector adopts the right focus, business models, policy and collaborative approaches they will be able to provide and maintain smarter, more efficient roads at a lower cost.
Among roads authorities there is a growing recognition that innovative approaches can make a real difference. They can improve safety, tackle pollution, reduce costs and provide better maintenance.
In particular, innovation offers the chance to:
- develop intelligent design and procurement of infrastructure
- build intelligence into infrastructure
- obtain more and better information for drivers on the operation of the network
- develop more intelligent management and use of infrastructure
- create products, services and insight to sell to other highways authorities internationally.
Innovation can increase the sector’s collective capability and effectiveness but the pace of development is currently too slow. There is a real need for:
At local, regional and national levels there is a real desire for change to:
increase the effective capacity of the road network
maintain it more effectively
meet customer expectations.
Our report sets out how those involved can use that appetite for change, alongside the new Road Investment Strategy, to truly transform the development and operation of our roads.
"Autonomous vehicles will only work effectively if there is a well-maintained road network for these vehicles to use that is relatively free of congestion"
– Steve Gooding, Director General of Roads, Traffic & Local Group, Department for Transport
"The roads question is what social scientists call a wicked political issue in the sense that it is not amendable to a clear, non-controversial outcome"
– Ben Plowden, Director of Planning, Surface Transport, TfL
"One of the barriers to change is the short-term view we have of people, processes and equipment, which does not facilitate innovation"
– Mike Wilson, Director of Network Services and Chief Highways Engineer, Highways England