Britain To Build ‘Beautiful Roads’ – #TBT Roma

The British government sees aesthetics as a top priority as it starts a massive roads upgrade project in thinking clearly influenced by the heir to the throne.

Also, fuel prices are on the way back up in Luxembourg, Denmark and Hungary. Eurotunnel to start a dedicated freight service update twitter account. EU money goes towards a chain of CNG stations in northern Sweden. The 2015 German traffic jam calendar is out, plus thousands more truck parking places are planned along autobahns.

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BRITAIN TO BUILD ‘BEAUTIFUL ROADS’

Design Panel to oversee roads. Overtly influenced by Prince Charles.

As it embarks on a £15bn upgrade programme the British government wants to create ‘a road system in harmony with its surroundings.’ Photo, 20% gradient Long Mynd, Church Stretton, Shropshire via @TheAA_Lifestyle.

As it embarks on a £15bn upgrade programme the British government wants to create ‘a road system in harmony with its surroundings.’ Photo, Long Mynd, Church Stretton, Shropshire via @TheAA_Lifestyle.

A leftfield speech from a government minister has (re)introduced a fresh concept to British road building: beauty.

Lincolnshire MP John Hayes – Minister of State at the Department for Transport with responsibility for roads, senior parliamentary advisor to the PM, member of the ‘socially conservative’ Cornerstone Group and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) – spoke on Wednesday (though it is not clear to whom).

Hayes’ in-depth argument against ‘crass, ugly and ubiquitous’ road design – which, as others have commented, seems to be self-written – also seems to be heavily influenced by the Prince of Wales. The heir to the throne has often railed against modern design and the rejection of classical design principles.

As Hayes said, ‘Much modern architecture fails precisely because it rejects those principles of design that time has taught us delight the senses.’

He cites the UK’s first motorway, the Preston Bypass – and the dualling of the A30 to Cornwall – as road projects where ‘good design was central to engineers’ vision’.

Hayes dismisses the ‘assumption that all road building is bad and destructive’ as crude and outdated.

Immediate reaction on twitter ran the whole gamut, from bored and angry – one commentator called him ‘delusional’ for thinking the HS2 rail line was in step with its environment – to shocked and amazed (us). Another called the speech ‘a refreshing change for the good’.

Going forward, Hayes lays out a ‘five point plan for engagement’ from getting local communities more involved, to giving projects more ‘local character’, establishing a ‘Roads Design Panel’ – and a set of design principles (here he specifically cites Prince Charles) – and making Highways England ‘an exemplar of good design’.

Read the speech in full here.

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Holding picture: Fiat 500L in Rome, April 2010. Photo @DriveEurope.

Throwback Thursday: a battered, rusting Fiat 500L, windows open and doors ajar in Rome, April 2010. Photo @DriveEurope.

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roundup: SWEDEN. €2m of EU cash will help fund a chain of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) filing stations along E4 on the north coast. The money will build two new stations, at Harnosand and Umea, and upgrade two existing ones at Sundsvall and Skelleftea. Due to finish in December 2015. EUROTUNNEL. The Channel Tunnel operator revealed this morning it will start an account dedicated to freight service updates. The existing @LeShuttle account started last year deals with passenger shuttle customers only. Eurotunnel didn’t say when the new channel would come on-stream but told one customer to ‘watch this space’. FUEL. Diesel in Luxembourg has edged up past the €1 barrier again… it now sells for €1.025/l says Wort.lu compared to €1.111 for unleaded95. Meanwhile, unleaded95 in Denmark has now risen to €1.50, and diesel to €1.328 reports Copenhagen Post (euro conversion via fuel-prices-europe.info). Petrol prices have increased in Hungary by the largest amount for two years says Portfolio.hu. Unleaded95 is now €1.088. The rise in diesel to €1.136 is the biggest since September 2013. GERMANY. The ADAC motoring club has published its 2015 annual jam calendar, in pdf form. Being as German roads can get so outrageously busy at holiday times hot dates are definitely worth bearing in mind when planning trips. The next super-busy day is Thursday 2 April. Also, four thousand new truck parking places will be opened in the next few years on top of the existing 43,000 it was announced today. The spaces will be concentrated on the A45 Dortmund-Frankfurt, the A6 near Sinsheim/Heilbronn, A7 at Kassel and A9 at Munich, 1,800 of them will open this year.

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