The British government will outline proposals on Monday for putting private companies in charge of the country’s roads as it seeks to lighten national finances.
In a speech to the Institution of Civil Engineers, Prime Minister David Cameron will say that the government cannot afford to improve the road system without money from the private sector and that gridlock on some routes is hampering economic recovery.
“We need to look urgently at the options for getting large-scale private investment into the national roads network - from sovereign wealth funds, pension funds, and other investors,” he will say, according to details of a speech released in advance to the media.
Cameron has asked officials to draw up plans to shake up how roads are built and maintained.
Officials envision granting long-term leases to private operators. Government revenues now devoted to highway construction and maintenance would be channeled to the private companies, and tolls would be allowed only on new highways.
Under previous conservative governments, Britain put the rail system and the water and sewage utilities in private hands.
Opposition Labour Party legislator Maria Eagle criticized the latest proposal on roads, saying the government would do better to recognize that it has cut investment in infrastructure too deeply and too fast.