MPs call for road rethink

Highway schemes of strategic significance should be reallocated to the national roads programme, MPs recommended this week.

In a report on its investigation into road building costs, the Commons public accounts committee said there has been some difficulty in prioritising small local authority schemes over regional projects.

The A46 Newark to Widmerpool improvement distorted the regional funding programme because it was so large, the committee noted. But small schemes such as the A140 Norwich to Ipswich improvement were rarely prioritised so were unlikely to be built, it found.

Specific funds should be made available for small local schemes to prevent delay in favour of regional schemes, the MPs said.

The committee also complained that the Highways Agency relies too much on consultants to challenge the contractors' proposed costs, causing conflicts of interest.

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