Major roads plans set for ‘lively discussion’ and competitive bidding


A senior figure at the Department for Transport has refused to rule out the use of competitive bidding when it comes to local or regional funding allocations around the proposed major road network (MRN).

The MRN, which would sit between local and strategic roads, forms part of the Government’s Transport Investment Strategy and would reap a share of the annual National Road Fund, funded by Vehicle Excise Duty.


It is understood that funding for the MRN could be worth between £1bn-£1.5bn a year, which would be given to local authorities to improve or replace their most important A roads under their management.

Some in the sector have started to call it a ‘£1bn for bypasses’ fund. When asked for a guarantee that local areas would not have to bid for the cash, Tricia Hayes, director general for roads, motoring and devolution in the DfT, told Transport Network she could not.

A senior source close to the process said it was very likely there would be competitive bidding for the MRN cash. ‘From her response you can see that is probably the way they are going to go.’

A consultation is due shortly on the MRN and how its network would be defined.

It was originally conceived in a Rees Jeffreys Road Fund report by David Quarmby and Phil Carey, which used an equation based on traffic and the type of traffic on roads as a proxy for economic importance and connectivity to establish a basis for which roads should be included.

The issue is likely to cause some heated debate between the DfT and sub-national transport bodies, which have their own ideas over what the networks should look like.

Tricia Hayes

Questioned by Transport Network, Ms Hayes said: ‘The network definition question is one where we think a largely principles-driven approach is the right thing - given the important hub the MRN has to be so as to be a driver of resource allocation and strategic economic powerhouses.

‘I don’t think we can take each region’s vision of its own network and pull them together in some kind of national map. Having said that, I think we are humble enough to recognise that there may be special cases. What we are anticipating is a network that starts being defined by principles like those set out in Rees Jeffreys Road Fund report - how it is used what kind of journeys it supports - then gives a little bit of flexibility around the edges where that principles based approach spits out a network that is just not sensible.’

She added: I think you will see when you see the consultation, STBs are absolutely at the heart of how we expect to roll out decision-making around the MRN.

‘The purpose of the MRN is to identify the strategically important roads and many of them function at regional level. STBs can help us understand what is a sensible order to tackle problems in.

‘I am not saying we are going to guarantee and accept what every regional body says about what their priorities should be. With Transport for the North we are having a very lively conversation about the work it has done on its own MRN. But it has a really important role to ensure the planning is sensible and the regional needs are clearly identified.’

Peter Molyneaux, strategic road network director at Transport for the North (TfN), said: ‘The North has worked closely together for the last nine months and has agreed an MRN for the region that’s the right size and shape for the North to meet its economic growth ambitions. We are looking forward to working with DfT and other STBs when the MRN consultation comes out [expected] by the end of the year.’

He also revealed that TfN hopes to have its own strategic transport plan out by the end of the year.

‘In terms of TfN’s strategic transport plan, we are looking forward to launching it by the end of the year and consulting on it. It will bring together road and rail for integrated smart travel and that will support our freight and international connectivity, which will see the north open for business not just to the country but to the rest of the world.’


Also see

Register now for full access

Register just once to get unrestricted, real-time coverage of the issues and challenges facing UK transport and highways engineers.

Full website content includes the latest news, exclusive commentary from leading industry figures and detailed topical analysis of the highways, transportation, environment and place-shaping sectors. Use the link below to register your details for full, free access.

Already a registered? Login

comments powered by Disqus
highways jobs

Environment Officer

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£29,909 – £32,233 Grade 11 - £33,136 - £35,229
All Environment Officers lead, project manage and/or co-ordinate large environmental projects... Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

MCA Hub Co-ordinator

Camden London Borough Council
£40,028 - £46,431
You will lead on the co-ordination of the North and Central Area Mayor’s Construction Academy (MCA) Hub. London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Highways Estimator

Competitive Salary
As the Highways Estimator you will join a busy environment and become an integral part of the team. Hounslow (London Borough), London (Greater)
Recuriter: Ringway

County Highways Manager

Lincolnshire County Council
£55,503 - £60,578
Seeking a highly motivated leader and an excellent communicator, who has a proven ability to build relationships and trust, leading by example. Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council

Local Highways Manager (East) - Lincolnshire County Council

Lincolnshire County Council
G12 £43,662 - £50,430
Seeking someone who combines excellent technical knowledge with a dedication to the customer. Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council

Assistant Director (Planning, Regeneration & Transport)

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council
£87,791 per annum  
This is an exciting time to join Rotherham and make a real difference. We are looking for an outstanding Assistant Director who will bring... Rotherham, South Yorkshire
Recuriter: Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

Corporate Director

Islington London Borough Council
Up to £135k
You will share our values and be passionate about helping us shape the Islington of the future. Islington, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Islington London Borough Council

Assistant Engineer

Cambridgeshire County Council
£21,074 - £30,756
Looking for strong team players interested in working with a variety of professional and community partners across Cambridgeshire. Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Junior Energy Manager Apprentice

Brent Council
£15,000 p.a. inc.
The right person for this job will be pro-active and innovative in finding a way forward. Wembley, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Career Grade Drainage Engineer

Swindon Borough Council
£19,092 to £40,680 p.a
Working in the asset management team, you’ll support the work of the Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA) and Highways Authority. Swindon, Wiltshire
Recuriter: Swindon Borough Council

Highway Construction Project Manager

Brent Council
£50,442 - £53,526 p.a. inc.
We are looking for an accomplished highway construction project manager to support the delivery of two high priority highway schemes. Brent, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Traffic Signals & UTMC Manager

Bristol City Council
£42,683 - £45,591
Looking for someone with proven management experience, enthusiasm, creativity, vision and good communication skills. City of Bristol
Recuriter: Bristol City Council

Principal Highways Project Engineer

Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council
£34,106 - £35,229 per annum
The post holder will be responsible for project managing the delivery of two highway projects on the Key Route Network. Knowsley (Metropolitan borough), Merseyside
Recuriter: Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council

Traffic Schemes Officer

Oxfordshire County Council
£22,021 - £29,636 per annum
An exciting opportunity has arisen to play a central role with the Traffic Team in the maintenance of the highway network... Kidlington, Oxfordshire
Recuriter: Oxfordshire County Council

Traffic Engineer

Telford & Wrekin Council
£29,055 to £30,756
This is an exciting opportunity to join Telford & Wrekin Council’s Traffic Management Team! Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Assistant Engineer – Traffic Regulation

Telford & Wrekin Council
£23,866 to £25,463
This is an exciting opportunity to join Telford & Wrekin Council’s Traffic Management Team. Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Highways Quantity Surveyor

Leicester City Council
£30,756 - £33,136 pro-rata per annum
Working in the Highways Maintenance Group, you will be responsible for the operational highway maintenance activities Leicester, Leicestershire
Recuriter: Leicester City Council

Highways Engineer/Inspector

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£22956 - £32637 per annum
Highways Engineer/Inspector - PermanentThere are plenty of reasons to take a closer look at Royal Greenwich.Royal Greenwich is undergoing a huge trans England, London, Woolwich
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Engineer - Bridges

Cambridgeshire County Council
£32,825 - £35,401
We have a vacancy for a Structures Engineer working within the Bridge’s team! Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council


Cambridgeshire County Council
£32,825 - £35,401
You will be required to lead the delivery of a wide range of highway improvements and maintenance projects... Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council