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Economy Economy

Develop the strategic road network

Last updated: 04:53pm 8 December 2019

We will continue to develop the strategic road network, providing extra lanes on our motorways and improving key routes whilst also paying attention to parts of the country left behind because of poor transport connections.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.24

Our verdict

The Strategic Road Network (SRN) is the 4,300 miles of motorways and A-roads across England. It is managed by the government company Highways England. The long-term approach to developing the SRN was outlined in the Road Investment Strategy (RIS) and was legislated for in the 2015 Infrastructure Act. The RIS outlines various objectives:

  • upgrade existing routes while building new ones
  • link communities and bolster local economic growth
  • increasing the number of smart motorways
  • tackle congestion issues
  • preserve biodiversity while reducing traffic noise and CO2 emissions.

This policy is a promise to “continue” to develop the SRN, so we’re looking for progress made by Highways England. But if you read the manifesto quote in full (above), you’ll see it is also a promise to pay attention to “parts of the country left behind because of poor transport connections”.

Highways England provides an annual report to Parliament detailing its performance over the previous year. Under this government, the 2017-18 report outlined:

  • the delivery of an unprecedented level of investment
  • 10 schemes opened to traffic and work started on eight schemes, including one brought forward from 2019-20

The 2018-2019 report pointed to a significant expansion:

  • the delivery of an additional 60 miles of capacity on the Strategic Road Network

The annual performance reports provide evidence that the government has upheld its pledge to “continue to develop the strategic road network”. However, we could not find evidence of SRN-specific measures to improve connectivity in areas with a poor transport network. As a result, this policy will remain ‘in progress’.

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