Delayed and overbudget road upgrades – Transport Committee investigates
The Transport Committee questions senior officials from National Highways and the Department for Transport on reasons behind delays and multi-billion overspends in delivering the strategic road investment plan.
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Road Investment Strategy 2 (RIS2), due to be carried out between 2020-25, is a £27.4 billion investment plan comprising more than 4,300 miles of motorways and A roads. £14.1 million of its budget was committed to a complex portfolio of 69 road enhancement projects.
A recent NAO report found that that the cost to deliver the enhancement projects had increased by £3.3 billion since 2020 and that 33 projects were over a year behind schedule. By July 2022, £1.19 billion of contingency funding set aside for the projects had been allocated, more than the initial £1.16 billion contingency which was to last until 2025.
Eleven of the original 69 projects which related to creating smart motorways were shelved in 2022.
The report said DfT and National Highways could have done more to manage potential risks to the RIS2 portfolio, such as inflationary pressures and obtaining planning consent from national planning inspectors following legal challenges.
Among the biggest projects in RIS2 were upgrades to:
- A66 Northern Trans-Pennine
- A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet
- A12 Chelmsford to A120
- Lower Thames Crossing
- A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down (Stonehenge)
- A358 Taunton to Southfields
- A417 Air Balloon
- A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon
- M4 Junctions 3-12
Witnesses are asked to explain the reasons for delays, cost increases and changes to the RIS2 delivery plan, and whether National Highways and DfT are well placed to deliver the revised plans.
The cross-party Committee of MPs also questions the officials on plans for RIS3, between 2025-30, and how inflation and other risks may be affecting the number of projects being planned.
There may also be questions about on how the road infrastructure strategies accord with the Government’s targets to cut carbon emissions, and how the road improvements integrate with other modes of transport.