Improving Local Highways: the route to a better future

31st Mar 2020

Despite the current unprecedented situation, CIHT is preparing for the future and has today (31 March 2020) released a new report ‘Improving Local Highways – the route to a better future’ that shows how the Local Highway Network (LHN) can be fundamentally improved for users through a four-point strategy.

Physical evidence of ageing and worn-out highways is there for everyone to see including potholes, broken carriageways, uneven and cracked footways. Local highways need urgent action, because as the future evolves and new 4G / 5G internet networks are installed, these highways will be asked to work even harder, finding space for the fibre cables, masts, and cells needed to give us high-speed, universal, instant connectivity.
Sue Percy CBE, Chief Executive, CIHT said:
“Everyone depends on the UK’s network of local highways; they are at the heart of our communities and these arteries of our country need to be invested in to ensure fitness to compete in the global economy. Despite the efforts of central and local government, the LHN is not in a good state and not up to the job of supporting the country’s ambitions for the future.”
“The recent budget highlighted the importance of the highway network for the UK’s economy and the Chancellor outlined a number of commitments to the strategic and local highway network.”
“The budget contained detail on a new £2.5bn ‘pothole fund’ but we believe that this investment whilst welcome, will not fully address the funding requirement and the ageing of the asset will continue to create more challenges. Without a new strategy, the LHN cannot help businesses to increase productivity, realise their economic opportunities and deliver what the nation needs for a sustainable future.”
“CIHT is calling for the government to commit to deliver a four-point strategy for the Local Highway Network that will create a vision, funding and focus over the next ten years.”
“In the Budget statement, the government indicated that in the spring they will publish a National Infrastructure Strategy which will set out plans for a transformation of the UK’s economic infrastructure. This announcement is a clear response to our calls for the government to provide the vision and certainty for the sector on highways and transportation projects and programmes.”
“Our recommendations include the need to establish a new inflation-linked local highways fund (on top of the current funding); creation of an improved system of monitoring and a national condition database.”
“CIHT believe that through the recommendations outlined in ‘Improving Local Highways’, we can show how the highway network will support the delivery of a carbon-neutral system, create sustainable, green, resilient, and accessible places, make transport healthier, and help the economy grow. CIHT believe these recommendations should be used by Government as they consider the CSR in relation to the local highway network and the key role that it plays”
The full report and supporting research is available here and a copy is available here CIHT - Improving Local Highways - the route to a better future

Recommendations from Improving Local Highways
CIHT proposes four key recommendations to the UK government that will create a vision, funding and a focus on the Local Highway Network (LHN) over the next ten years.
Recommendation 1: Create a new focus for the LHN
1) Establish an improved system of monitoring that (a) gives clarity on how the LHN is performing, and (b) includes comparisons of efficiency, effectiveness, and innovation in delivery
2) Encourage greater collaboration through providing an appropriate incentive funding regime
3) Define how local highways meet the economic and social requirements of local areas: roads for places, roads for distribution, roads for access (both rural and suburban), and roads for sustainable and active transport
4) Show how the highway network will support the delivery of a carbon-neutral system, create sustainable, green, resilient, and accessible places, make transport healthier, and help the economy grow
5) Define what people can expect from the LHN, underpinned by an outcome-based service specification and guidance for local authorities and other practitioners
6) Review regulations and legislation relevant to the LHN
Recommendation 2: Commit to establishing an inflation-linked local highways fund
  • Establish a 10-year additional funding settlement (should be additional to the current annual capital and revenue funding that local authorities receive for highway maintenance) of £15 billion TOTEX to address the maintenance backlog
  • Agree a 10-year local highways fund - leading to improved efficiencies and effectiveness in the management and maintenance of the LHN, including incentivisation to deliver wider outcomes for people and society (would allow maintenance to facilitate active travel, supporting the decarbonisation agenda whilst improving peoples’ health)
  • Allocate an initial £7.5 billion from the fund for the first five years, distributed to local authorities on a yearly increasing basis as a new national asset conditions dataset is introduced
  • Allocate a further £7.5 billion from the fund for the second five-year period, with distribution taking account of local authority performance, asset conditions, road function and increasing length.
Recommendation 3: Create a better understanding of the asset through improved data
1) Create an up-to-date database of national condition information for all key highway assets
2) Update techniques for collecting data using the latest technology
3) Develop a standard measure to calculate the required funding based on common standards of serviceability from a customer perspective
Recommendation 4: Establish new sources of funding to support the local highways fund
1) Improve the efficiency of how funding is allocated to local highway authorities by reducing the number of complicated funding mechanisms and bidding processes
2) Government should identify and develop alternative and additional sources of revenue to finance the future funding of local highways, including moves to where utilities pay the real cost of reinstatement. CIHT sees opportunities for road pricing to address congestion, reduce carbon and provide a potential funding source.

Notes to editors
About the project
'Improving Local Highways' is the culmination of a two-year research project that analysed the state of local highways and explored new solutions to funding, resource and maintenance challenges identified. Contributors were drawn from a wide range across highways and transportation and included representatives from the public and private sector.
Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation
CIHT is a membership organisation representing those who work in the highways and transportation sector.
CIHT members plan, design, build, operate and maintain best-in-class transport systems and infrastructure, whilst respecting the imperatives of improving safety, ensuring economic competitiveness and minimising environmental impact.
CIHT supports its member's professional endeavours by:
  • offering training, information, professional development and support
  • promoting the value added to society by the profession
  • being the focused voice to Governments and other decision makers on transportation expertise and knowledge.
For more information please contact:
Daniel Isichei, Director of Communications, m: 07912 122573
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