26 April 2019
The Department for Transport (DfT) is working on plans to provide local authorities with more financial flexibility on capital and revenue spending, as it seeks to make local roads 'autonomous vehicle ready'.
Speaking at a session of the Transport Select Committee, transport minister Jesse Norman (pictured) and DfT's head of highways maintenance, Steve Berry, outlined a vision for local roads along with technical developments designed to give authorities 'the tools
Mr Norman conceded that local roads were currently 'not in a great state, although it is improving in some regards', before going on to say the department needed to 'up its game'.
'Just a simple example - inadequate markings on local roads. As you move towards autonomous vehicles we are going to need better marked and better lined roads not just on strategic highways but on local roads,' Mr Norman said.
He added that his vision for local roads was a network ready to take autonomous vehicles as this would provide sufficient quality and maintenance for all users.
'The vision has to be to create an asset worthy of the name of high quality that is suitable for autonomous vehicles to use local roads. That is a rich and inspiring vision. Any road that is sufficient for autonomous vehicles would be more than adequate for other users.'
He added that this could happen over the next generation and that no one could say when autonomous vehicles would be on the roads, which appears to put some water between himself and his boss, transport secretary Chris Grayling, who has made predictions of 2021.
Mr Norman also reiterated his calls for a local road investment strategy - a five year secure funding package for local roads.