Government launches £15bn scheme to make roads safer and easier to use

Design Council is working with Highways England on the Road Investment Strategy, a two-year initiative to improve the design of roads and motorways.

Design Council has worked with Highways England on an initiative to improve the design of the UK’s roads to make them safer and more environmentally sustainable.

Highways England is the Government body responsible for designing, maintaining and running motorways and A-roads in the UK, as well as providing information updates through on-road signage and the Traffic England website.

10 principles for good road design

The initiative is part of the Government’s £15bn Road Investment Strategy, which aims to produce roads that “connect people and places”, are “long-lasting, sensitive to their surroundings and enhance quality of life”, according to Highways England.

It comes in the form of 10 principles for good road design, put together by the Highways England Strategic Design Panel, which is made up of 13 organisations. This includes Design Council, charity Campaign for Better Transport, Historic England, Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), and National Trust.

The principles state that road design should be: safe and useful; inclusive, meaning they can be used by all; understandable, so are intuitive and easy to navigate; restrained, meaning they are functional but not overbearing to their surroundings with “superfluous visual statements”; environmentally sustainable; thorough, meaning they are “robust” and all-encompassing; innovative, meaning they respond to change and new technologies and are constantly made better; collaborative, meaning they take into consideration people and communities; long-lasting and durable; and fit in with their context and surroundings. Each principle is expanded on in a full report.

Design Manual for Roads and Bridges

These 10 principles will form part of the new Design Manual for Roads and Bridges, the official standards manual for the design and maintenance of roads and motorway networks in the UK. This will go on to inform future road design, with the new manual expected to be complete by March 2020.

The Road Investment Strategy is also part of wider Government campaign the Year of Engineering, which is an initiative to get thousands more young people into engineering careers.

Highways England plans to work with schools to bring young people into road development workplaces to show them first-hand how engineering jobs work.

“Inclusive, resilient and sustainable”

On the aims of the scheme, Highways England says: “We aim to put people at the heart of our work by designing an inclusive, resilient and sustainable road network; appreciated for its usefulness but also its elegance, reflecting in its design the beauty of the natural, built and historic environment through which it passes, and enhancing it where possible.”

The initiative begins this year, as the new principles begin to inform the new version of the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges. The road improvement scheme was first proposed in 2015.

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