A major study from the Highways Agency shows that more than £3.5 billion was spent on major schemes to improve the strategic road network between 2002 and 2012.
The 2013 Post Opening Project Evaluation (POPE) Meta report is now available on the Agency website. According to the Agency, it represents the most comprehensive evaluation programme of expenditure within UK transport.
Detailed appraisals of individual schemes are also carried out before they are put forward for construction. The Agency assess the broad spectrum of expected impacts – both good and bad, so that informed investment decisions can be made when funding is being considered.
The Agency’s 2013 POPE Meta report has highlighted some interesting findings and trends:
• Post opening, 94% scheme objectives are met (with it being ‘too early to tell’ for a further 4%)
• On average for every £1 spent on a major scheme, the return will be more than £4 in long term benefits
• The majority of forecasts for traffic flows are accurate, and there is evidence to suggest that the accuracy of traffic forecasts is improving over time
• Cost estimating in scheme appraisal has been consistently improving over time
• 75% of environmental impacts are in line with our predictions. 15% are ‘better than expected’ – so where we weren’t accurate, it doesn’t necessarily mean we were over-optimistic
• Major schemes improve journey time reliability, giving clear benefits in predicting journey times – this is important to support the freight industry and the economy
• The Department for Transport can have confidence in its appraisal guidance and the methodology it sets out for appraising schemes during all phases from design through to construction.
Louise Wootton, POPE project sponsor, Highways Agency: “We use these reports to demonstrate to taxpayers what has been achieved through investment in the strategic road network. It also shows the level of confidence we have in our appraisal mechanisms, which is important when new schemes are being considered for future investment."