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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

£40bn roads pipeline unveiled for next 10 years

The DfT has set out almost £40bn of forthcoming work opportunities on the UK's road network, which is expected to come online over the next decade.

The department published details of 125 contracts it expects the body in charge of building and operating major roads to put to market between now and 2031.

It comes after the DfT formally announced its rebranding of Highways England to National Highways – the new name said to herald “a new era” for the strategic road network and reflect a focus on delivering the government’s investment programme.

A cloud hanging over future roads spending was lifted last month when a High Court judge ruled that transport secretary Grant Shapps did not break the law when approving the £27.4bn Road Investment Strategy.

Contracts in the Highways England list of future opportunities published this week include renewal of the Regional Delivery Partner frameworks worth £8.7bn. Thirteen contractors, knows as design integration partners, were appointed to six-year deals in 2018.

A further £7.1bn of work is promised through a ‘scheme delivery framework’ that is expected to go to market next month and be renewed in March 2027.

A tunnels and approaches contract for the Lower Thames Crossing is valued at an estimated £2.3bn with procurement slated to begin on 28 February 2023. A further £1.3bn deal for roads to the north of the crossing is expected to go to market in December 2022, according to the pipeline.

After feedback from the Planning Inspectorate forced Highways England to withdraw its original plans for the Lower Thames Crossing last year, it emerged this summer that changes to the application had added more than £350M to the cost of the scheme.

Outside of this mega-project and various frameworks, the highest value one-off job on the list is a £1.2bn scheme to upgrade the A1 between Doncaster and Darrington in the North East.

The long-awaited A66 Northern Trans-Pennine improvements contract is valued at £773M and scheduled to go to market in August 2024.

Looking at the calendar, the next date for contractors to circle is next Tuesday (24 August) when a £42M technical surveys and testing package for drainage is set to start procurement.

On 1 September, a £7M deal for professional services on Tilbury Overbridge – part of the Lower Thames Crossing – is scheduled to enter procurement phase.

The 10 biggest deals in Highways England's procurement pipeline

Contract titleAnticipated procurement start date

(Actual Or Estimated) Value Of New Contract

Regional Delivery Partner Framework 700,000,000 Scheme Delivery


Scheme Delivery Framework30/09/2021 £3,600,000,000

Scheme Delivery Framework renewal £3,500,000,000

or replacement31/03/2027

Lower Thames Crossing Tunnels £2,300,000,000

and Approaches Contract28/02/2023

Pavement Framework renew £1,500,000,000

or replace06/04/2026

Lower Thames Crossing £1,300,000,000

- Roads North of the Thames16/12/2022

Category Management £1,300,000,000

- Pavement Delivery Framework01/11/2022

Category Management £1,300,000,000

- Pavement 301/11/2022

A1 Doncaster to Darrington01/08/2024 £1,159,000,000

Information Technology £1,000,000,000

Commercial Framework30/11/2021

Nick Harris, who joined Highways England in 2016 and has been acting chief executive for the past six months, was this week named as chief executive of National Highways.

He said: “I am pleased to be taking up the reins at such an exciting time. We have achieved a great deal and there is still more to be done.

“As we deliver the second roads investment strategy, ensuring the safety of all road users, the delivery of our work and the benefits to our customers remains at the centre of our organisation.”

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “Nick will be an excellent chief executive and I’m looking forward to continuing to work closely with him as we build back better across the country.

“Nick will steer Highways England into an exciting new chapter, as it evolves into National Highways and delivers on our £27bn plan to improve our roads and make journeys safer, smoother and greener.”

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