New rules have been announced this week that will help councils to cut the disruption caused by road works.
Transport Minister Norman Baker introduced ‘lane rental’ this week, the scheme will allow councils to charge utility companies up to £2,500 a day to dig up busy roads during peak times that can lead to disruption for motorists.
The idea of the scheme is that it will give companies the incentive to work quickly and at off peak times or at night, minimising the disruption.
Norman Baker commented: “It is incredibly frustrating to find vital roads being dug up in the middle of the rush hour or, even worse, traffic lanes closed when no one is even carrying out any work.
“This disruption is not only inconvenient but very expensive, with roadworks-related congestion costing the economy an estimated £4 billion a year, which is why we are taking firm action.
“While permit schemes are working well to reduce disruption from roadworks in areas where they have been sanctioned we think it sensible to try out a further option.
“We believe lane rental schemes provide a further incentive to utility companies and local authorities to carry out their work at times when they will cause the minimum disruption and to complete them as quickly as possible.”
Following the consultation process the Department of Transport published guidelines for local authorities wanting to put ‘lane rental’ schemes in place and once it has been used by authorities the information will be used to collate evidence that the scheme would be effective enough to make a difference; three authorities will initially test the scheme.
The three authorities will be one metropolitan and two others that will feedback if the scheme works well. Applications will need to be made by authorities that want to be part of the ‘lane rental’ scheme. Requirements will also be made towards the authorities where they will have to evaluate their line rental scheme annually and the evidence will be used to decide how other schemes can be implemented.
Any revenue that is made from charging companies for disruption will be used by councils to fund measures that could include infrastructure work and measures to improve the management of work.
It is hoped the new ‘lane rental’ scheme will bring less disruption to roads and less queues if companies work during off peak hours.
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By Amanda Bainbridge