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The government is to effectively double the number of roads and motorways given top funding status by creating a new Major Road Network (MRN).

It will use vehicle excise duty (VED) to pay for highway upkeep in a move welcomed by industry groups.

The plans, which will go
out to consultation later this year, form part of the new Transport Investment Strategy.

This includes a proportion of the VED-funded National Roads Fund, which will be allocated to pay for the upkeep of the most important local authority A-roads.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling said the MRN would mirror the success of the Strategic Road Network (SRN) and enable improvements such as bypasses to be built around congested towns and villages. It would form a middle tier between the SRN and the remainder of the local road network.

The RHA said the proposals would reduce journey times across the country and bring relief to those disrupted by HGV traffic on main roads in rural areas.

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: “Unlike the many thousands of motorists who use the road network every day, the UK’s roads and motorways are a haulier’s workplace."

The Local Government Association said: “This funding could help improve existing local roads for which there is a £12bn repairs backlog. How- ever, this can only help if it is new money, and not a substitute for existing funding.”

The FTA welcomed the news. “The government focus on investing in roads, which will deliver improved performance, economic growth and reduce bottlenecks, is correct,” said FTA head of national policy Christopher Snelling.