We’ve all experienced the traffic chaos caused by roadworks, with long queues caused by lane closures and temporary traffic lights. It’s particularly frustrating when long term roadworks never seem to make any progress, or when drivers are directed to slow down or wait for a signal at a roadworks site where nobody is currently working, for instance at the weekend or after dark.
Now, new government regulations from the Department for Transport are set to improve the situation, controlling the operation of roadworks more tightly. This should not only reduce congestion, but help to make road repairs faster and more efficient.
Measures are already in place which allow the Department of Transport to issue fines of £5,000 per day to councils for roadworks which overrun their agreed date of completion, as an insurance policy against those sites which seem to be abandoned.
If the new rules being considered are implemented, councils and utility companies will, in addition, be liable for a penalty payment of up to £5,000 for every day on which roadworks are in place, but no work is being carried out at the site.
The move is intended to encourage the removal of paraphernalia like traffic cones while there are no workers present. Roadworks sites are more likely to be deserted at weekends, so an alternative to clearing sites on Friday evenings, only to set everything up again on Monday morning, is to have work continue over the weekend. Gaining two extra days every week should bring roadworks to completion more quickly.
Another proposal currently under consideration is a fine for leaving temporary traffic lights up after roadworks have been completed. This move should encourage councils to ensure temporary signals are removed and permanent ones reconnected.
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The new scheme will target road repair sites on council owned and maintained A roads, since these major routes are in constant use by commuters, leisure traffic, and the motor trade. The total cost of delays on trunk roads, in petrol burned and time lost while sitting in queues, is difficult to estimate, but any reduction is sure to carry both economic and environmental benefits. Drivers and passengers in new and used cars, vehicles on trade plates travelling to showrooms or new owners, lorries, buses, and coaches are all affected.
Repairs to our roads are essential for smooth, safe driving, and precautionary measures where roadworks take place help keep both road users and road workers safe. With these new measures in place to encourage swift, efficient repairs, we can all look forward to easier journeys and better road surfaces.