Motorways could get Wi-Fi connection

Motorways across the country could benefit from the introduction of roadside Wi-Fi as part of a major upgrade plan outlined by Highways England.

The body, which has only recently been opened and which will be responsible for motorways and A roads around the UK, is set to replace the Highways Agency from April 1st onwards.

Highways England has outlined plans for a £150 million innovation fund, which could introduce the technology to motorways in the south-east of the country before rolling it out further.

Wi-Fi could facilitate autonomous cars

Proposals state that Wi-Fi could encourage “in-vehicle, vehicle-to-vehicle, and vehicle-to-infrastructure technologies”, helping to connect drivers and also facilitating autonomous vehicles.

This follows on from Chancellor George Osborne’s 2015 Budget announcement on Wednesday, which pledged continued support for driverless cars to boost the UK’s stake in autonomous technology.

A Highways Agency spokesman said: “Innovation will be a major driving force behind everything Highways England does over the next five years.

“We will work closely with the Department for Transport, specialists and the private sector on technology and strategic growth that will make best use of our roads.

“These changes will improve journeys for our customers, boost safety and drive economic growth.”

The budget also outlined plans for 16 schemes to upgrade roads and areas around the A1, M62 and Mersey Gateway Bridge, plus a new tunnel designed to ease congestion around Stonehenge.

New European-style expressways

Other plans include certain busy A roads being replaced by European-style expressways as part of an £11 billion project, which will also resurface vast swathes of road around the UK.

Designed as a new classification halfway between an A road and a motorway, the new expressways will take inspiration from similar roads already in use in Italy, the Netherlands and Bulgaria.

Officials have described them as “consistently good roads which are largely or entirely dual carriageway, with grade-separated junctions, giving most users a motorway-quality journey”.

Originally published in December, the proposals are expected to be further detailing out next week ahead of the handover from the Highways Agency to the new Highways England company.