Roadwork-related traffic jams could become ‘a thing of the past’ according to the DfT, as it extends a scheme designed to reduce peak time disruption.
Under the lane rental scheme, companies are charged up to £2,500 a day for digging up the busiest roads at peak times.
The scheme incentivises firms to work on quieter roads during peak times, or outside of rush hour on busy roads, and to collaborate with other companies to minimise the need for roads to be dug up on multiple occasions.
The scheme has been piloted in London and Kent, and has reduced congestion on the busiest roads, according to the DfT.
In London, utility companies have worked together more than 600 times since lane rental was introduced in 2015.
The DfT also carried out a consultation into the scheme last year, with the majority of those responding supporting its rollout nationwide. Many said they wanted to take advantage of the ‘clear benefits’ of lane rental schemes.
Jo Johnson, transport minister, said: “Drivers often see red when roadworks cause them delays, especially if no one is working on them.
“Lane rental has seen a massive drop in disruption to drivers as utility companies have changed when and where they carry out work.
“Now we want millions of motorists around England to get the same benefits.”
The rollout of the scheme has been welcomed by the RAC.
Nicholas Lyes, the RAC’s head of roads policy, said: “Trials showed that some of the worst congestion caused by planned utility works in London was reduced by half on roads where lane rental was in operation, so rolling this out will extend the benefits nationwide.
“While motorists accept that some roadworks and congestion are unavoidable, lengthy and unnecessary queues are incredibly frustrating.
“RAC research suggests congestion on our roads and journey time reliability are growing concerns for motorists so introducing lane rental should encourage better planning and coordination of roadworks, and mean utility works are completed in a swifter, more efficient manner.”
The DfT will produce guidance in the autumn to help councils develop lane rental schemes for approval. The first schemes could be introduced by the end of 2019.