The government-run company in charge of England's motorways has begun the process of removing notorious concrete road surfaces. Almost universally disliked by motorists due to the sound made while driving over them, the concrete sections of road will be replaced or resurfaced with more conventional asphalt.

Highways England says two companies will undertake the first round of improvements, with contracts worth a combined total of £285 million handed out. However, the government has set aside up to £400 million for the entire 400 miles of concrete road surface on England’s motorway and major A-road network.

Although concrete road surfaces are designed to be hard-wearing, the majority of them are now around 50 years old, and Highways England says major upgrades are required. The plan also includes recycling and reuse of materials where possible, to reduce the environmental impact of the roadworks.

UK smart motorway network

Depending on the condition of each section of road, the organisation plans to either replace or repair the surfaces to extend their longevity. The organisation says roads that are resurfaced will be “quieter, smoother, easier to maintain and therefore safer”.

The first of the contracts to carry out the work were awarded earlier this year to infrastructure and engineering companies AECOM and Atkins. Highways England says the companies will coordinate the work with other roadworks to “minimise the disruption”, while diversions will be in place where necessary.

UK smart motorway network

“Concrete roads have served the country well since they were first built half a century ago,” said Martin Fellows, the regional director of Highways England. “They have proved tough and durable over the years, helping every day for work journeys and home deliveries, visits to friends and family, holidays, and the movement of the goods and services that we all depend on. 

“This is the biggest concrete road renewals programme we have ever embarked on and we’re pleased to have awarded the final two contracts that will help us deliver the maximum benefits of safe, reliable and smooth journeys for many years to come.”

And Transport Minister Baroness Vere said the resurfacing work would help to bring the road network up to scratch.

“Today’s news is fantastic for motorists across the country, bringing thousands of drivers a step closer to smoother and more reliable journeys,” she said. “This huge renewals programme, which is part of our £27 billion investment in the country’s roads, will help ensure the nation’s road network is fit for the future.”

UK smart motorway network