Our Concrete Roads programme

Our new programme will make sure concrete roads remain safe, dependable and durable

Our Concrete Roads programme

Most of our network is surfaced with asphalt, also known as blacktop or tarmac, but some roads are built of concrete. These make up around 400 miles (4%) of England’s motorway and long-distance A-road network.

Concrete roads are mostly found along the eastern side of England, in the North East, Yorkshire, East Anglia and the South East. There are also some small stretches in the West Midlands, Merseyside and Greater Manchester.

They were built largely in the 1960s and 1970s, when traffic volumes were half of what they are today. The concrete slabs with which they were made have proved tougher and longer lasting than asphalt, and over the years have needed very little maintenance.

Decades of safe use and hundreds of millions of journeys mean these roads are nearing the end of their working lives. They need vital upgrades to ensure they remain safe, dependable and durable. Better surfaces will also boost ride quality and reduce noise for many years to come. 

Our long-term plan

We're now working on our biggest ever programme to rebuild and revitalise our concrete roads in England.

The first part of this programme will see us invest £400 million between now and 2025, as part of our five-year Strategic Business Plan maintaining and renewing the strategic road network. 

In late 2020, we started work to extend the lives of some concrete surfaces in the East of England, keeping them safe for road users for the next decade. Find out more about our programme of concrete road renewals in the East region

The next stage of this work will start in summer 2021. Between now and 2025, we'll work with leading engineering and construction companies Morgan Sindall, John Sisk & Son, Volkerfitzpatrick, Colas, Dyer & Butler and Tarmac Trading on a long-term programme to repair or replace concrete road surfaces on our network.

As part of this programme, some roads will have their lifespan extended for 10 years by repairing potholes and cracks on the road surface. Others will be fully reconstructed, replacing the old surfaces with a new, modern road surface that will last for up to 40 years and will be easier and quicker for us to repair in future.

Managing road works

While we're doing this work, we'll seek to minimise the disruption to road users and the impact on local communities. We'll make sure our plans are coordinated with other roadworks and help road users plan their journeys. We want to help people continue their normal journeys as much as possible, with alternative and diversion routes available when needed.

We want to make sure the money we invest means safer, smoother and more reliable journeys for road users while respecting local communities and the environment.

Details about individual road works to help customers plan journeys can be found in the Our Work section of the website. We'll also work with local stakeholders and partners to make sure our customers are aware of works in advance.

Working on a concrete road

Centre of Excellence

As part of this programme, we've established a Concrete Roads Centre of Excellence. Repairing and reconstructing our concrete roads will require techniques that have emerged since they were first built 40 years ago.

We're also testing and using new technologies, tools and processes so that we can do our work as efficiently and quickly as possible.

The Centre of Excellence will act as the development centre and knowledge hub for this work for the programme to use as it upgrades the concrete road network over the next 20 to 25 years.

We're already using the latest laser technology to check the condition of a road surface without completely closing it, reducing disruption for customers and our neighbours.

By developing and using these innovative new methods for survey and delivery work, we can reduce both the cost of the works and the impact of construction on roads users and communities.

Protecting the environment

The Centre of Excellence will also help us protect the environment. We care about our impact on the environment and our carbon footprint.

We plan to reuse the materials removed from our concrete roads in other road projects wherever possible, as well as working with our supply chain to develop new techniques to reduce our carbon footprint.

Our works will also be carried out to high environmental standards, enhancing the environment wherever possible.

What work is being done

Depending on their condition, some roads will be repaired to extend their life and others will be fully replaced. Decisions about what type of work will be done are only taken once an extensive review of the existing road surface has been carried out and the benefits the works bring to customers and the wider community thoroughly examined.

Where we decide to reconstruct a section of concrete road, we'll replace concrete road surfaces that are in poor condition with a new smoother surface. This means completely removing the old material and reconstructing the road to a much greater depth - almost the same as when building a new road from scratch. This new surface will last for up to 40 years.

Where we chose to extend the life of a road, we'll carry out specialist repairs to maximise the life of the existing concrete road surfaces. This will enable us to keep the road operating safely for another 10 years.

All works will result in roads that are quieter, smoother, easier to maintain and therefore safer for our customers for years to come.