Sector - Transport & Infrastructure

Innovations, Partnerships and Better Connections

Five years of Highways England have transformed road design and build, its Chief Executive, Jim O’Sullivan, has said.

Addressing attendees at the opening of this year’s major industry event, Highways UK, Mr O’Sullivan said innovations in the industry had reduced disruption, increased safety and delivered quicker benefits.  And future partnership working will ensure all parts of the country are connected.

Being run this year as a fully virtual, online event, Highways UK brings together those responsible for the planning, designing, building, maintaining, operating and futureproofing of the UK’s road network.

Mr O’Sullivan told his virtual audience that on projects like the A14 major upgrade between Cambridge and Huntingdon, Highways England, together with its partners, had introduced new techniques and practices which had transformed how everyone works together.

He said: “Techniques like modular construction and digital design have helped reduce disruption to customers, increase the safety of our workforce and delivered benefits faster.”

Looking back over the past five years, Mr O’Sullivan highlighted some of the key achievements of the first road investment programme (2015-2020):

He pointed to:

  • A reduction in the company employee accident frequency rate by over 95% and an improvement in the supply chain rate of over 50%.
  • Fatalities on the strategic road network reduced by 16% last year to their lowest recorded levels and there was a net reduction in those killed or seriously injured of 2%.
  • Adoption of 60mph through roadworks where safe
  • The flagship A14 project near Cambridge – the only government infrastructure project of over £1bn in recent years to be delivered on budget, and ahead of schedule.
  • Regional delivery partnerships, and a more proactive asset management

Looking to the future, he said: “Over the next five years, the safety of our customers and workforce will remain our first imperative. We will reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on the SRN by 50% against the 2005 – 2009 baseline. We will keep everyone who works on our network safe.

“By clearing incidents quicker and keeping our roads well maintained, we will help our customers to have smoother journeys. We will clear over 86% of incidents within an hour and will make sure that our road surfaces always meet the required 95% standard.”

In August this year, Mr O’Sullivan announced he was stepping down as chief executive of Highways England.

He told the virtual audience that he felt proud to be leaving Highways England in good shape to manage future challenges.

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