Roads roundup

Sales of electric cars and other plug-in vehicles continue to increase, with a record number of people taking advantage of government grants. The Plug-in Car Grant reduces the price of ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs) by up to £5,000 for cars and £8,000 for vans, making them more affordable for the public and businesses. Between July and September 2014, over 5,000 grants were provided, more than double the number than in the previous 3 months and almost a third of all grants since the scheme was launched in 2010. There are now over 17,000 grant funded ULEVs on the UK’s roads.

Roads minister John Hayes has confirmed that the Office of Rail Regulation will be given an expanded remit to hold the Highways Agency to account once the roads organisation is given greater freedom from government. If the Highways Agency fails to honour the licence conditions that form part of its funding deal, the watchdog will have the power to take enforcement action, including issuing fines. In addition, Passenger Focus, which currently represents bus, coach and train passengers, will be expanded to reflect the views of road network users. The body will be renamed Transport Focus. More here

Connect Plus, the company responsible for managing and upgrading the M25 network, has completed the installation of new bridge expansion joints on the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge at Dartford. The project involved replacing six bridge expansion joints, weighing 80 tonnes each.  With over 150,000 vehicles using the bridge daily, traffic flow continuity was critical during the project and Connect Plus, working with its designer Flint &Neill and contractor Jackson Civils, developed a brand new temporary, modular over-ramp system. This allowed the workforce to repair the expansion joints underneath, while traffic passed overhead. 

Free flow charging on the Dartford Crossing goes live on 30 November with the introduction of Dart Charge. However the free flow benefits might not materialise until April. Work to remove the payment booths and introduce a new road layout will begin at the end of November to coincide with Dart Charge launching and will be substantially completed by the end of April 2015, which is when drivers will feel the full benefits of the improvements, the Highways Agency said.Users can register for Dart Charge here


A 12-mile stretch of the A285 between Chichester and Petworth in Sussex is the most dangerous road in Britain, according to a report. Fatal and serious crashes have increased 16 per cent on the this section of road over the period 2007 to 2012.The list was announced by the Road Safety Foundation in its report ‘How Safe Are You On Britain's Roads?’

BIM has helped Skanska Balfour Beatty, working on behalf of Connect Plus for the Highways Agency, complete a £1.3bn smart motorway upgrade of the M25 J25 to 27 thirty-six weeks ahead of schedule. BIM enabled the early detection of design issues while at the same time providing the customer, the Highways Agency, and stakeholders, such as Network Rail, with real-time information on design and implementation. BIM also sped up the traditional decision making process through, for example, the widespread use of ‘electronic sign-off’ as opposed to in person, and QR (Quick Read) codes were used on all drawings so that they could instantly be downloaded for surveyors and site managers to use without the need for printed copies. 



Expectation is that go ahead will be given for construction of a road tunnel underneath Stonehenge in the Autumn Statement this December.

Transport Scotland has announced the names of four bidders competing to win the circa £50M contract to deliver the first A9 dualling scheme for the 8km stretch between Kincraig and Dalraddy.They are: BAM Nuttall/John Sisk; Farrans Construction/Roadbridge, Morrison Construction and Wills Bros/John Paul Construction.