Headlines: March 7th, 2008

A motoring organisation is calling today for stronger planning frameworks and more powerful organisations to develop Britain’s strategic road network to ensure the country has a transport infrastructure for the 21st century. The RAC foundation says indecision and poor management have resulted in immeasurable setbacks to the development of UK roads.

In ‘What Went Wrong? British Highway Development before the Motorways’, the Foundation also blames the creation of transport departments with no clear remit and a lack of long-term vision for shortcomings in the network.

Sheila Rainger, the Acting Director of the RAC Foundation, said that without the Romans, the turnpike system and the Ministry of Transport’s on-off road building programme the situation would be even worse. “Badly planned, poorly configured, piecemeal road building programmes should be a feature of our country’s past. Road user charging could be part of the future solution, but recent debate has shown this idea to be less popular than turnpikes,” she added. ”

Lessons needed to be learnt, she said and continued, “To avoid roads to ruin we need to learn from these mistakes, and develop stronger planning frameworks and more powerful delivery organisations with a clear duty to develop and manage the strategic road network. This will ensure we have a transport infrastructure fit for the 21st century.”

In today’s report the Foundation says it took 100 years for Government to take responsibility for main roads after the turnpike system declined in the mid-19th century, and it is warning that the country could face the same economic and financial problems in future years if a coherent long-term plan is not put in place.