Councils could gain powers to ensure less roadworks disruption

4 Sep 17

Highway authorities could gain powers to charge utilities up to £2,500 a day to perform roadworks, under plans put out for consultation today by the government.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling said 2.5m roadworks were carried out in England each year, resulting in disruption and congestion estimated to cost the economy some £4bn.

He said the proposal to allow for hourly road rental charges “would give councils greater powers to ensure utility companies avoid carrying out works at the busiest times and on the most popular routes”.

Under the proposal gas, electricity, water and communications providers would pay by the hour for the right to dig up roads.

The idea behind this is to provide an incentive for them both to coordinate works with each other and to try to do these at off-peak times.

Pilot schemes run by Transport for London and Kent County Council have proven successful, the government said. Its consultation document said the schemes in London and Kent had set daily charging rates in the ranges of £800-2,500 and £300-2,000, respectively.

TfL had raised £4.8m and Kent £1.1m after operating costs. This must at present be spent on road improvements, but the consultation suggested this could be widened to include other traffic management work.

Leon Daniels TfL’s managing director of surface transport, 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.”

There have been repeated attempts to coordinate utilities’ works on roads, stretching back to the New Roads and Streetworks Act of 1991 but only limited progress has been made.

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