Shaping the future of England’s strategic roads – response to DfT consultation12 Feb 2018

RACF backs plans for expressways

The RAC Foundation backs plans to introduce Expressways as part of the government’s proposals to divide strategic roads into four categories.

In its response to the DfT’s consultation on the second Road Investment Strategy (RIS2) the Foundation also said it welcomes proposals to keep adding capacity through the ‘smart’ motorway concept but that a lack of driver understanding of how to use the roads meant the best use of that extra capacity might be lost:

“Too many drivers are using lane 2 or lane 3 of an all-lane running stretch of motorway because they don’t recognise the conversion of the hard shoulder to become lane. There are ongoing concerns about the spacing and signing of refuges, and the meaning of the red X and other warnings carried on variable message signs (VMS). So, the more the nature of the road can be standardised into a limited number of familiar and readily comprehensible categories, the better.”

The Foundation argues that making the best use of the network doesn’t just involve adding lanes but maintaining the infrastructure that already exists:

“Meantime we would urge Highways England, and Ministers, to focus at least as much on the stewardship of the existing network as on headline-catching capacity enhancement schemes: maintenance really matters.”

The Foundation also sees a case for management targets that are more closely in tune with the demands of users:

“To that end we would argue for retention of a road safety KSI measure. But on network performance we would like to see development of a three-part measure of ‘delay’ distinguishing between planned works (enhancement and maintenance), excess traffic demand over design capacity, and delay resulting from incidents (crashes etc) above a threshold. We think this goes to the heart of network reliability better than the current lane-mile availability measure.”

While Highways England is to be encouraged to consider journeys from start to finish – recognising that few if any actually start or end on the strategic road network – its ability to “spend money ‘off-network’ to achieve a better traffic outcome it should be possible to
achieve better outcomes without engaging in the time-consuming process of trunking/detrunking.”