Highways England to ask permission for low value £500m scheme

22/02/2018

Highways England has confirmed that it will contact the transport secretary to gain specific permission to move forward with a £500m scheme that has been assessed as providing ‘poor’ or ‘low’ value for money.

If a scheme falls below a benefit-cost ratio of below 1.5, Highways England chief executive Jim O’Sullivan is obliged to write to the Department for Transport to make sure the government-owned company should proceed.

Having launched a consultation on two possible routes to dual the A417 ‘missing link’ at Air Balloon roundabout, despite the £500m schemes being assessed as providing ‘poor’ and ‘low’ value for money respectively, Highways England has conceded that progressing either option would require express permission from ministers.

One option – Option 12 – is a four-mile surface route reusing sections of the existing A417 on Crickley Hill and Birdlip. New sections of road will be built at Nettleton and Emma’s Grove. This option would include three new junctions – one at Cowley roundabout, one on the existing A417 close to the B4070 junction at Birdlip and one to the north of Barrow Wake. There would be three lanes of carriageway going up Crickley Hill and two lanes coming down.

The consultation document acknowledges that while this £465m option offers poor value for money (at 68 pence per pound), ‘it falls within the [£250m-£500m] cost range for the scheme’ whereas most other options, which included tunnels, did not.

The other option – Option 30 –  is a 3.4-mile surface route following the alignment of the existing A417 at Crickley Hill with less of a slope.

A new section of road will be built through Shab Hill to the east of the existing A417, re-joining the existing road near Cowley roundabout. It would include two new junctions – one at Shab Hill and one on the existing A417 close to Barrow Wake with a link road in between. There would be three lanes of carriageway going up Crickley Hill and two lanes coming down.

This option would cost £485m and provide a return of investment of £1.04 (low). The consultation states: ‘Option 30 is the only route to offer positive value for money, meaning that the return on investment is estimated to be higher than the initial cost. All other options would see us make a loss on taxpayers’ investment.’

A spokesperson for Highways England confirmed that, because both schemes are below a benefit cost ratio of 1.5, progressing either would require its chief executive, Jim O’Sullivan, to write to Mr Grayling, who could potentially refuse permission, but that Highways England would continue to work with the Department for Transport as plans are developed.

‘The A417 provides an essential link between the M5 at Gloucester and the M4 at Swindon – two of the region’s top growth areas – and the proposed upgrade of the three-mile section of single carriageway, known as the Missing Link, will help these areas flourish.

‘A solution for this route presents unique challenges and any upgrade needs to take into account the sensitive environment of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

‘The two proposed options will see drivers benefit from more reliable journey times, improved safety, reduced congestion and communities will see less rat-running and have better access for the walking routes of the Cotswold Way and the Gloucestershire Way. These will all enhance the area’s economy.’

The government-owned company said the current three-mile stretch of single carriageway road between the Brockworth bypass and Cowley roundabout restricts the flow of traffic on a key route that is otherwise a continuous dual carriageway between the M5 and M4, and argues that the scheme has wide ranging economic benefits for the area.

Project manager Mike Goddard said: ‘Improving this missing link will be a benefit to local residents, users of this important route, and those accessing the walking routes of the Cotswold Way and the Gloucestershire Way. Reducing unpredictable delays will encourage motorists to stay on the A417 with reduced journey times, leaving local roads less congested.

‘We have worked with local partners to offer a safer route while recognising this very special area. We are keen to hear from drivers, businesses, local residents and other road users, and we invite them all to visit us at one of our exhibitions, or respond to the information available online or at one of our local information points.’

Highways England added that the A417/A419 route passes through the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and that ‘any solution will be designed sensitively to meet the special character of the landscape, environment and history’.

The consultation started on 15 February and closes on 29 March.

Highways jobs

Senior Local Engineer

Birmingham City Council
£27,741 - £34,728
The Senior Local Engineer role is to provide technical service at senior level to Local Engineering teams Birmingham, West Midlands
Recruiter: Birmingham City Council

Traffic & Transportation Engineer

Conwy County Borough Council
£41,881 - £44,863 per annum
You should have a degree or diploma in civil engineering or other relevant discipline, and extensive experience in... North Wales
Recruiter: Conwy County Borough Council

Principal Development Co-ordinator

Gloucestershire County Council
£33,799.00 - £38,813.00 + 12% MRS
Leading on the review of Major Development Proposals. Gloucester, Gloucestershire
Recruiter: Gloucestershire County Council

Highways Development Management (HDM) Manager

Gloucestershire County Council
£53,445.00 - £58,008.00 + MRS
To oversee all aspects of Highways Development Management from pre application discussions to road adoption. Gloucester, Gloucestershire
Recruiter: Gloucestershire County Council

Principal Development Engineer

Gloucestershire County Council
£33,799.00 - £38,813.00 + 12% MRS
You will be responsible for undertaking design audit of third party developer works under Section 38 and 278 of the Highways Act 1980. Gloucester, Gloucestershire
Recruiter: Gloucestershire County Council

Director of Environment

Southwark London Borough Council
Up to £136,000
A fairer future for all A fairer future for all Southwark, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Southwark London Borough Council

Director of Public Health

Southwark London Borough Council
Up to £136,000
A fairer future for all Southwark, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Southwark London Borough Council

Parks Development Officer

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£26,999 - £29,636 per annum
You will work with community groups, organisations, ward members, residents and colleagues in order to... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Commercial Business Development Manager - Trade Waste x1, Waste Disposal Contract x1

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£42,683 - £44,632
Are you an experienced and collaborative commercial manager with experience in waste services supporting public sector transformation and change? Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Public Space Protection Enforcement Officer - 4 Jobs

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£19,554 to £23,836
These posts are fixed term for 2 years due to funding. Looking to appoint at Grade 7.  Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Head of Infrastructure & Facilities

East Riding of Yorkshire Council
circa 100k
We are seeking a Head of Infrastructure & Facilities to lead the strategic management of the service in a unique and exciting opportunity for a... Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire
Recruiter: East Riding of Yorkshire Council

Senior Professional and Technical Officer – Project Manager

Bristol City Council
£32,910 - £34,728
We are seeking to appoint a Project Manager, to work in the Transport Service, to help support the delivery of the above plans. Bristol
Recruiter: Bristol City Council

Policy Advisor – The Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise (ICCAN)

Department for Transport
£37,803
Look to the sky for a great career opportunity Woking, Surrey
Recruiter: Department for Transport

Skilled Road Worker (TRR)

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£26,025 - £31,536 depending on knowledge, skills and experience
Do you want to be part of a supportive team and use an innovative method of working on the highway? London (Greater)
Recruiter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Assistant Director of Transport & Sustainability

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£93,098 - £102,841
This dynamic role will see you provide strategic leadership to our transport strategy Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Fleet Monitoring Officer

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£29.766 - £30.711
An opportunity has arisen in the Fleet & Waste Strategy Team for a Fleet Monitoring Officer on a 6-month secondment. Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Highways Customer Communications Officer

North Yorkshire County Council
£27,741 to £30,451
We are looking for a strong communicator to join our Highways Team in Boroughbridge.   Boroughbridge, York
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Assistant Engineer - Grade 2

Northumberland County Council
£24,313 and £26,999
We are looking for candidates to fill the post of Assistant Engineer. Morpeth, Northumberland
Recruiter: Northumberland County Council

Street Cleaning Operative / Driver

Barnet London Borough Council
Competitive Salary
We are looking for hard working, motivated, reliable people to join our team. Barnet (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recruiter: Barnet London Borough Council

Senior Engineer Network Management

City and County of Swansea Council
£32,878 - £36,876 per annum
This is an exciting opportunity to support the council’s ambitions to develop affordable housing in Swansea Swansea (Abertawe)
Recruiter: City and County of Swansea Council

Highways on Fridays

Register now!

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue
  • Shell celebrates 100 years of bitumen
  • Why we need to be more strategic about safety
  • Major reforms aim to close cycling gap
View the latest issue

Latest Video