National Highways cancels Costain’s M62 upgrade

National Highways has cancelled a job to upgrade barriers on the M62.

Construction News understands the job was cancelled after Costain, which was working on the project, and National Highways carried out an appraisal of the project. Costain and the client are now looking for other work that could be done to the site.

Initially, Costain was working on a project to upgrade the road between junctions 20 and 25 of the M62 as a smart motorway. That job was cancelled last month as the government mothballed its plans for smart motorways “in recognition of the lack of public confidence felt by drivers and cost pressures”, but Costain had then been assigned to upgrade central reservation barriers between the five junctions.

A spokesperson for Costain said: “We are working closely with National Highways to deliver critical improvements to the UK’s infrastructure and are liaising with them over any changes in scope.”

National Highways confirmed the scheme has been cancelled after a further appraisal of the project, and said it will consider future options for this stretch of motorway in due course.

In November last year, a report published by the National Audit Office (NAO) warned that many major road jobs would be cancelled after it identified a £3.3bn increase in the cost of investment into the strategic road network for the period between 2020 and 2025. The NAO added that it was “not clear” how the Department for Transport (DfT) and National Highways would absorb the high inflation costs plaguing the construction industry.

Then, in February, DfT permanent secretary Dame Bernadette Kelly warned there would be a “very limited” budget for new road schemes in the five years to 2025.

Figures cited yesterday in a written parliamentary answer by junior transport minister Richard Holden show that planning and design spending on 11 now-cancelled smart motorway schemes peaked at £22.1m in 2021/22.

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