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New Highways England design rules for Lower Thames Crossing and A303

Highways England has launched a set of new design principles to inform future road schemes.

The organisation said that as well as connecting people and places, it needed to ensure its roads better serve the people who use them and the environments through which they pass.

A new panel made up of experts from across the industry has been also established to provide support to designers on major projects, starting with the Lower Thames Crossing and the A303 Stonehenge improvements.

The panel’s focus is on strategic input rather than scheme specific details, targeting where its expertise, insight and guidance will have most positive impact and wider benefit such as standards, procurement and evaluation.

The ten principles of good road design are:

  • makes roads safe and useful
  • is inclusive
  • makes roads understandable
  • fits in context
  • is restrained
  • is environmentally sustainable
  • is thorough
  • is innovative
  • is collaborative 
  • is long-lasting

Highways England’s chief highways engineer Mike Wilson said: “We are delivering the biggest level of investment in England’s strategic road network for a generation.

“We need to make sure that Highways England and the industry think in the right way when it comes to good design. The ten principles of good road design are to help us achieve that and will underpin our major improvements going forward.

“We want roads that not only connect the country and communities, but which achieve a higher quality of life; that are designed in a way that is sensitive to the surroundings; provide greater economic vitality and use resources in a more efficient and innovative way.

Examples of previous good design include the 2012 GE Award winning A3 Hindhead tunnel bypass, and the decommissioning of the old road and the inclusion of a ‘green bridge’ on the A556 in Cheshire.

Green bridge on the A556 Knutsford to Bowdon scheme opened in 2017

Green bridge on the A556 Knutsford to Bowdon scheme opened in 2017

The green bridge on the A556 Knutsford to Bowdon scheme opened in 2017

The ten new principles of good road design and vision will underpin the updated Design Manual for Roads and Bridges. The Design Manual for Roads and Bridges was first published in 1992 and is the standard for the design, maintenance and operation of the strategic road network. The new manual will be rolled out in phases and is expected to be complete by March 2020.


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