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In their first Annual Report, The Future Prosperity and Well-Being of Wales and the Role of Infrastructure, published in November 2019, the National Infrastructure Commission for Wales (NICfW) issued a call for evidence. Transport featured highly with strategic connectivity, improved links (north south), a net zero infrastructure network, rural transport and reducing the need to travel being key areas of interest to the NICW.
The Wales Infrastructure Alliance (WIA)* responded citing insufficient investment in new and existing infrastructure, combined with a lack of positive decision-making as the biggest threat to undermining the aspirations for closing the gap between Wales the rest of the United Kingdom. This would also harm our response to addressing the Climate Change Emergency.
And then came the Covid-19 pandemic. This has fundamentally changed how we view transport infrastructure and travel in general. The new ‘norm’ involves less travel, more home-working, a rapid increase in online shopping, more active travel (weather permitting!) and increasing demand for personal space when travelling and socialising.
So what should be the transport infrastructure priorities in Wales in a post Covid -19 world?
*The WIA draws together like-minded organisations representing over 600 member companies and over 10,000 individual members from across the infrastructure sector. The WIA is formed from ICE, CECA, ACE, CIWM, CEW, CIWEM. CIHT and IStructE. The Alliance sees itself as a source of advice (to the National Infrastructure Commission for Wales) and potential solutions to enable the delivery of 'world-class' infrastructure in Wales to drive our future wellbeing as a nation.
Russell is currently a Project Director within the Strategic Highways business at Atkins leading the design for significant transport infrastructure improvements across the UK, including the A465 Heads of the Valleys Dualling between Dowlais Top and Hirwaun and the M5 J10 improvement in Gloucestershire. From 2012 to 2018 he held the role Operations Director Highways (Wales) at WSP leading on significant transport frameworks and projects, including the SWTRA Consultancy Services Framework and the A487 Caernarfon and Bontnewydd Bypass.
Between 2000 and 2012, Russell had several project delivery roles in the Welsh Government’s Transport Department including the role of Head of Major Projects (2007 to 2012) where he was responsible for delivery of the Trunk Road Forward Programme worth over £1bn. Prior to 2000, Russell worked for several consulting engineers on major highway projects in Wales including the M4 and A4042 Brynglas Tunnels Relief Road scheme and the A40 Carmarthen Eastern Bypass.