A group of transport professors led by Professor Glenn Lyons has published a report raising seven key questions for decision- making on future roads spending in terms of economic, social, environmental and safety outcomes.
The group – the Road Investment Scrutiny Panel – was formed last year prompted by factors coming together to make 2023 what they call “a critical moment for decisions on road investment and transport expenditure more generally”. Their report lists these as:
The report ‘Key questions for road investment and spending’ identifies seven important and pressing questions relating to: decarbonisation; biodiversity; health and social impacts; highway maintenance and optimisation; road safety; achieving value for money through consideration of alternative options for investment; and testing that investment decisions made are robust to a changing and uncertain world.
Key themes highlighted in the report include the need for:
The Road Investment Scrutiny Panel comprised Professors: Glenn Lyons (UWE Bristol – Panel Chair); Steve Gooding (UWE Bristol – Co-convenor); Jillian Anable (University of Leeds); Nicola Christie (University College London); Zoe Davies (University of Kent); Stephen Glaister (Imperial College London); Phil Goodwin (UWE Bristol); and Karen Lucas (University of Manchester). The Panel Secretary was Andrew Crudgington (freelance researcher, technical writer and facilitator).
Professor Lyons said: “In a world beset by global shocks and the climate and nature emergency, ensuring that we weigh the make-up and scale of our investment in roads and really think through how we want our roads to be used matters more than ever. Money is tight and our roads perform a vital service, so we need our governments, nationally and locally, to get us the best bang for buck in delivering safe, efficient, environmentally sustainable and socially just travel.”
He added: “We’re not about standing in the path of worthwhile projects. Our view is that many of the delays we have seen on recent road schemes could be avoided through a more robust and transparent demonstration of their consistency with the trajectory transport needs to follow to comply with our statutory duty to cut carbon emissions, as well as achieving our ambitions to foster enhanced biodiversity and improve our health and safety.”
The Panel’s work was funded by a grant from the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund. Its Chair of Trustees David Tarrant said: “The Founder of our charity, William Rees Jeffreys, was a leading light in the development of roads policy from the earliest days of motoring and was personally instrumental in driving up the quality of our highways to improve the safety and the travel experience for all road users. Part of our work as Trustees is to promote a joined-up approach across a broad range of policy agendas with the aim of ensuring our roads work for us as effectively as possible.
“This report poses a set of salient and timely questions that should challenge all our thinking when it comes to informing decisions about spending on roads.”
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