Highways England has appointed Jim O’Sullivan as its chief executive, following its transformation from the former Highways Agency earlier this year. An engineer by trade, O’Sullivan comes from a background working on “safety critical transport projects”, as well as working with British Airways and Heathrow Airport Holdings.

He replaces Graham Dalton, who served as chief executive of the Highways Agency for seven years.

Highways England chairman Colin Matthews said: “I am delighted to announce Jim’s appointment to lead Highways England in a new, challenging era.

“I would like to thank Graham Dalton for his leadership over the past seven years. He has been responsible for significant improvement schemes, as well as meeting the needs of the nation during severe weather and events of international interest such as the 2012 Olympics, all culminating in the successful transition from the Highways Agency to Highways England.”

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “Jim’s experience of leading world-class infrastructure companies means I can be confident he will ensure that the benefits of the record investment this government is making in our roads delivers for drivers and businesses across the whole of the UK on time and on budget.”

O’Sullivan will join the company on 22 June, officially replacing Dalton on 1 July.