The Department for Transport has announced an ambitious new project that is to be carried out in collaboration with Ordnance Survey to create detailed maps for the roads transport network across England and Wales.
A £3 million fund has been created that will enable engineers and surveyors to take to the nation's roads over the coming months in order to create the most detailed and up-to-date maps for use by both members of the public and local authorities in the years ahead.
The work is aimed at ensuring the information held by the government on UK transport infrastructure is as true-to-life as it can be, with the new digital map to to include such information as road widths, traffic calming measures and height and weight restrictions for users.
Once the compilation of the necessary data to complete this updated document has been finalised, it will be used to create a definitive mapping system for use by central government and councils across England and Wales.
This will help when planning new projects, organising roadworks or when looking to implement new amenities, like cycling or walking routes.
In addition, the data collected can be used by the government to update satellite navigation systems, providing an additional revenue stream for the coming years, as well as helping to ensure emergency services can be routed via the most appropriate roads to reach the scenes of incidents in the most efficient manner.
Finally, the new digital road map will also be added to the Public Sector Mapping Agreement – allowing all areas of the public sector to access the data.
Transport minister Robert Goodwill said: "This government is backing schemes that will make Britain's transport system world-class. This mapping project has the potential to substantially improve how we look after our roads. It will help make journeys more efficient and ensure traffic keeps moving.
"This funding demonstrates our commitment to funding the technology of the future, which will drive economic growth and create jobs."
Meanwhile, Ordnance Survey acting chief executive Neil Ackroyd commented: "We're pleased to be working with the Local Government Association, GeoPlace and the Local Highways Authorities to create a single, unified highways product for use across both in the public and private sector."
This latest project forms part of the government's ongoing commitment to improving the nation's roads in the years ahead, with plans in place to deliver transport network improvements to the value of £28 billion over the coming decade.
Measures being implemented as part of the introduction of the new Infrastructure Bill include the creation of the new government-owned body Highways England that is now gearing up to take over all responsibilities for road network planning and development from the Highways Agency in April.
Highways England has been created with the dual purpose of delivering significantly improved value for money for the taxpayer from all future transport infrastructure schemes, as well as ensuring the nation's roads are suitable to meet the needs of 21st century travellers.
With this in mind, the government has already committed to a significant overhaul in many areas of transport network delivery, such as the aforementioned investment in new mapping, as well as tackling the longstanding issue of bottlenecks through the ongoing Pinch Point Programme and an update to signage to make sure road signs, traffic signals and road markings continue to give road users the information they need.
As part of this final measure, local authorities are to be granted additional freedom to decide on signage issues in their area – these new powers will focus on the ability to place traffic signs only where needed and to remove those that are confusing or unnecessary.
Meanwhile, an updated traffic sign system that will be easier to follow and understand for all road users is now being worked on.
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