Roads roundup

Edinburgh is set to be Scotland’s first 20mph city following public consultation last autumn, which saw significant backing for the proposals. More than 80% of Edinburgh's roads, including the whole of the city centre, would be included.  The plans go before members of the council's transport and environment committee for approval on 13 January.

According to the the Highways Agency, 85% of drivers using the Dartford Crossing have paid the remote toll, introduced in November.  But 15% or 300,000 journeys did not pay the toll before the deadline of midnight the day after crossing. The Agency is giving each driver contacted for the first time an extra 14 days to pay for trips made without penalty.

One potential block on progress of the Infrastructure Bill into law before the end of this Parliament in March has been overcome as government has agreed to exclude Scotland from laws making it easier for fracking firms to drill for shale gas. The bill has now completed the committee stage. Fracking is part of the bill which also includes legislation to create Highways England. The Scottish government, the Scottish Labour Party and the Scottish Green Party had opposed the bill which includes fracking proposals which would apply to residential areas. Labour MP Tom Greatrex had lodged amendments to the bill requesting that full powers over shale gas exploration be given to the Scottish Parliament ahead of the general election in five months' time. The coalition government did not back the suggestions but instead pledged to exclude Scotland from the impending legislation. Based on that offer the Scotland Office said "the opposition was content to withdraw its amendments". 

The Development Consent Order for the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme has been submitted.  The project, valued at approximately £1.5billion, is the largest road improvement project in Britain and will address the problems of congestion and delay on the 25 mile stretch of trunk road between Cambridge and Huntingdon. Mace project director for the job Ian Parker said: “The Highways Agency is delivering the A14 scheme to an accelerated programme which has meant completing the highway design, environmental statement, traffic modelling and public consultation work in around half the time normally taken for projects of this type. The consultation process involved over 30 public exhibitions and nearly 200 meetings with stakeholders and we received nearly 8,500 comments on the scheme, all of which have been responded to in our consultation report. The submission of the DCO application means that we remain on programme to start construction work in 2016.” 

Plans for the road tunnel under Stonehenge have been slammed by archaeologist who fear it could damage the oldest encampment yet discovered near the monument. Charcoal, flints and animal bones dug up from the Mesolithic encampment at Blick Mead in the world heritage site, 2.5km from the stones, has been tested and dated to around 4,000 BC, archaeologists said.

Balfour Beatty Skanska JV has been selected for a £55m scheme to upgrade junction 30 of the M25 to reduce congestion that regularly sees queues of vehicles backing up onto the motorway. The 150,000 people who every day use or pass junction 30, where the M25 meets the A13, will experience improved journey times through increased capacity and the scheme will accommodate any future plans for land use around the Thurrock Thames Gateway and in South Essex. Work starts next year and is due to complete in 2017.

The Highways Agency has published its latst StART assessment  scores for its maintenance contractors who are measured against criteria of leadership, collaboration, supply chain, delivering value, diversity and inclusion and sustainability.

StART League Table scores – December 2014

EM Highways 140

Carillion Civil Engineering 133

Skanska Civil Engineering 132

Costain 131

Balfour Beatty 129

Laing O’Rourke 125

CH2M Hill 124

Taylor Woodrow 123

Amey 123

Mott MacDonald 120

John Sisk & Sons 113

Kier Infrastructure 112

Bouygues Construction 108

Colas 105

HOCHTIEF (UK) Construction Ltd 103

Morgan Sindall 102

Vinci Construction Grands Projects 102

Galliford Try 101

BAM Nuttall 95

Lagan Construction 92

The new A11 dual carriageway has been opened by the Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin. The £105 million improvement to more than nine miles of the A11 – a key route between the M11 and Norwich is promised to bring a significant boost to the economy, reduce congestion and improve road safety. The Highways Agency scheme between the Fiveways roundabout and Thetford has involved widening 5.5 miles of the A11, building a new 3.6 mile bypass around the village of Elveden, and five new structures. In addition a new underpass was constructed, for users without vehicles, near the war memorial – this received funding from Suffolk County Council. Main contractor was Balfour Beatty.