Roadwork permit schemes help cut driver disruption

Street works and road works are a major cause of delay and disruption for road users, resulting in significant costs to the economy and society. Councils across England are being urged to take up a congestion-busting scheme that reduces disruption caused by roadworks.

An evaluation report, by Ecorys and Open Road Associates, published on June 18 2018 by the Department for Transport shows permit schemes (where companies apply to highways authorities to carry out works) help reduce the length of disruption from roadworks by more than three days.

Permit schemes cover works on all local roads and can be complemented by lane rental, where utility companies are charged daily for digging up the busiest roads at peak times.

The report showed these schemes cut the number of overrunning roadworks and offer a more proactive approach to the management of works compared to noticing. It also found that local highway authorities gain increased visibility of works following the introduction of a permit scheme which would be expected to contribute to having greater control.

A mixed methods approach was applied to the study which included impact evaluation (including estimating the effects that permit schemes have on relevant outcomes, such as works durations) and elements of process evaluation (looking at how schemes were designed and implemented in practice). Analysis of the data suggests that resources must be invested in the development of schemes.

Around 65% of authorities now have in place these schemes, which are making a real difference. The remaining 35% are being asked to introduce them so that their local communities can benefit from this positive impact on journeys.

Roads Minister Jesse Norman said, “Roadworks are the bane of drivers’ lives, causing delays and costing the UK economy £4.3 billion a year. Permit schemes are proven to reduce the length of roadworks, allowing motorists to have fewer disrupted journeys and reducing the burden on businesses. More councils should look at adopting permit schemes, as well as lane rental schemes in due course, to help drivers get to work and visit friends and family quickly and safely.”

Permit schemes, which were introduced in 2010, give councils more control over roadworks. Local authorities can also add conditions to the roadworks, such as the time when works can start and end, limits on the number of days they can be in place and where equipment should be stored, to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum. Councils may charge a fee to cover the administration costs of permits.

This follows the announcement of a national rollout of lane rental schemes later this year which will see companies charged up to £2,500 a day to carry out works on busy roads. Pilot lane rental schemes in London and Kent have seen congestion on the busiest roads drop, saving drivers time and boosting the economy.

It also comes after the Transport Secretary called on companies to carry out works on pavements, where possible, instead of under roads to avoid any disruption to motorists.

The full report can be read here

For more information please contact Kate Merriam