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Road to success?

2006 REVIEW

IT HAS been an unsettling year for the road building industry as more and more bureaucratic measures stood in the way of anything actually getting done.

First we saw regional transport plans, which many contractors viewed as simply a way of shifting the buck away from the DfT and on to new regionalised transport boards, most of which could not even be set up properly because the regions simply did not have the time or resources.

When the plans were announced in July, contractors realised that by devolving the decision making process to local authorities and then back to the DfT it simply meant a whole host of road schemes got shelved and everything took a great deal longer.

In September the industry was hit with more bad news as the Highways Agency announced plans to use the hard shoulder on motorways instead of building extra lanes.

But some hope finally arrived in the form of a 366-page report by former British Airways chief executive Rod Eddington which outlined a series of measures to improve transport infrastructure.

The report called for a new commission to take decisions on projects of strategic importance and an increased emphasis on further PFI and PPP work.

A separate report by Kate Barker also called on the Government to speed up the planning process when deciding on things such as major infrastructure. It seems that the way the Government decides when and where to build new roads is set to change - let's just hope that transfers to more tarmac.

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