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Highways Agency

Volume 469: debated on Monday 10 December 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what cost changes have been approved for schemes in the Highways Agency’s major roads programme since the publication of the Nichols report in March 2007. [Official Report, 28 January 2008, Vol. 471, c. 1MC.] (168982)

Following the Nichols report the arrangements for estimating and approving the cost of schemes within the roads programme are being improved. Schemes are not finally approved for construction until we have a price agreed with the contractor. Since publication of the Nichols report we have approved start of works for five schemes, at the expected costs shown in the following table.

Expected cost (£ million)

M27 Junction 3-4


M27 Junction 11-12


M1 Junction 25-28


A1 Bramham to Wetherby


M25 Junction 1b-3


1 In addition, £12 million of work has been transferred to the A2/A282 scheme.

The Highways Agency is currently undertaking an exercise to re-estimate the costs for schemes not yet in construction, following the recommendations on cost estimating in the Nichols report. Where appropriate they are examining the scope for using Active Traffic Management (ATM), in line with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State’s announcement on 25 October of a feasibility study into the scope for advanced traffic management. The results of the re-estimation process and the ATM feasibility work will be published in the spring.

In the meantime, where schemes need to progress through stages of development, the best information available at the time has been used. Since publication of the Nichols report, Ministers have agreed cost estimates for the purpose of publishing Environmental Statements or draft orders for the following schemes:

Cost estimate agreed (£ million)


Section 1


Section 4


M1 J10-13


A421 Bedford to M1 J13


In addition we have approved the preferred route for the A14 Ellington to Fen Ditton improvement. The estimate for this scheme is being reviewed, as noted above, and more robust estimates will be published in spring 2008.