Innovations, partnerships and better connections – roads chief’s message to sector

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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 future-proofing 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 along with 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 towards 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.

He added:

Building on the partnerships with other organisations we have developed through our Designated Funds programme, we will work with others to make sure our projects have an even more beneficial impact for the communities alongside our roads.

And by working with MPs and organisations such the sub national transport bodies and regional Mayors, we will make sure that every part of the country feels the benefit of our work.

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.

General enquiries

Members of the public should contact the Highways England customer contact centre on 0300 123 5000.

Media enquiries

Journalists should contact the Highways England press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer.

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