The reform was announced along with the government's transport spending plans. Chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said that the coalition was committed to spending £28bn on roads in the six years after April 2015.
The money will go on improving and maintaining the national and local road network but we have to wait until April 2015 for the funds to start flowing.
Mr Alexander claimed that it was the most that any government had invested on roads since the 1970s.
And because of the new status being given to the Highways Agency, it would be (somehow) free of political interference and the money was “sure to be delivered”. Legislation will be brought forward to "guarantee" the investment, he said, and turn the Highways Agency into a publicly-owned corporation – “An organisation that will have the long term funding certainty and flexibility to deliver the best possible road network for the UK’s motorists,” Mr Alexander said. “And we are legislating to ensure these reforms and this investment is guaranteed.”
He said that there would be £10bn for road repairs between 2015-16 and 2020-21. Of this, more than £4bn is for national road maintenance and less than £6bn for local authorities.
Mr Alexander said that every scheme in the Highways Agency pipeline would be delivered, although he did not say by when.
He said that the start of construction of the £1.5bn A14 scheme between Huntingdon and Cambridge will be brought forward by two years to 2016.
Other projects also getting the green light, though not necessarily for the first time, include:
- A19 between Newcastle and South Shields
- A63 in Hull
- M6 junctions between Birmingham and Manchester
- M5 junctions Bromsgrove to Worcester
- A38 Derby Junctions
- M1 junction near Long Eaton and south of Rugby
- A21 Tonbridge to Pembury
- Junctions on the M4
- M23 Gatwick junctions
- A27 Chichester bypass.