O'Sullivan hails Highways England 'transformation'

06/11/2020
Chris Ames

Road design and construction has been transformed over the past five years by Highways England, its outgoing chief executive Jim O’Sullivan has said.

Mr O’Sullivan said innovations in the industry had reduced disruption, increased safety and delivered quicker benefits, and that future partnership working will ensure all parts of the country are connected.

He also stressed that on projects like the A14 major upgrade between Cambridge and Huntingdon, Highways England and its partners had introduced new techniques and practices which had ‘transformed how everyone works together’.

Mr O’Sullivan pointed out that the flagship project (pictured below) was the only government infrastructure project of over £1bn in recent years to be delivered on budget, and ahead of schedule.

‘Techniques like modular construction and digital design have helped reduce disruption to customers, increase the safety of our workforce and delivered benefits faster,’ he said.

Looking over the achievements of the first road investment programme, from 2015 to 2020, Mr O’Sullivan pointed to a reduction in the company employee accident frequency rate by over 95% and an improvement in the supply chain rate of over 50%.

This came alongside a 16% fall in fatalities on the strategic road network last year and a net 2% reduction in those killed or seriously injured.

In addition he cited the adoption of 60mph through roadworks where safe, regional delivery partnerships, and a more proactive approach to asset management.

He added: ‘Over the next five years, the safety of our customers and workforce will remain our first imperative. We will reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on the SRN by 50% against the 2005 – 2009 baseline. We will keep everyone who works on our network safe.

‘By clearing incidents quicker and keeping our roads well maintained, we will help our customers to have smoother journeys. We will clear over 86% of incidents within an hour and will make sure that our road surfaces always meet the required 95% standard.

Mr O’Sullivan said Highways England would work with others to make sure its projects have ‘an even more beneficial impact for the communities alongside our roads’, building on the partnerships with other organisations it has developed through the Designated Funds programme.

‘And by working with MPs and organisations such the sub-national transport bodies and regional mayors, we will make sure that every part of the country feels the benefit of our work.

Mr O’Sullivan announced in August that he was stepping down as Highways England’s chief executive. You can read Highways’ interview with him in our October issue.

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