Local authorities could be given the power the charge utility companies by the hour for carrying out works on roadworks along congested routes in a bit to cut congestion.
According to the Department for Transport (DfT) which outlined the plans on Saturday (2 September), trials in London and Kent have already seen severe congestion by utility works fall by more than half.
Currently most local authorities use permit schemes to monitor roadworks, but the new proposals to charge companies for lane rental would give them extra powers.
It is estimated that the current 2.5 million roadworks carried out on UK roads costs the economy an additional £4 billion from lost productivity, delays, and rising business costs.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling said: “These proposals would give councils greater powers to ensure utility companies avoid carrying out works at the busiest times on the most popular routes.
“This would not only improve journeys and cut congestion but also save business from the increased costs they incur as a result of traffic on our roads.”
Edmund King, president of the AA said: “Drivers are always baffled that the water company will dig a hole and fill it, only for it to be opened up again by their broadband provider weeks later. We hope that collaboration and cooperative work plans between service providers will now be standard practice.
“One issue that we hope is resolved with lane rental is making sure that whoever digs up the road returns it back in a good state. It wouldn’t be acceptable for the road to be patched up quickly and poorly, just to try and keep within their rental period.”
Leon Daniels of Transport for London, said: “We’re delighted about these plans to extend the lane rental scheme nationally.
“It has been a resounding success in the capital, with the amount of severe disruption caused by badly-managed or poorly-timed roadworks more than halved.”