New policy aims to minimise impact of disruptive roadworks
Council seeks government permission to adopt lane rental scheme
Utilities and other companies who close Oxfordshire’s roads could be encouraged to minimise congestion and disruption when they carry out their work or face financial penalties of up to £2,500 a day.
Oxfordshire County Council will ask the government to allow it to introduce a lane rental scheme (LRS) which allows organisations working on the county’s busiest roads at the busiest times to face extra charges.
If approved, the LRS would encourage those working on the highway to prioritise off-peak hours and to complete the work as quickly as possible to reduce their costs. Any surplus money raised by the council would be used to help manage and improve the highway network.
Councillor Andrew Gant, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “We know only too well that roadworks during peak hours can have a huge impact on Oxfordshire’s road network. LRS would put the onus on the organisation causing the disruption to plan their projects carefully and consider other road users or face financial penalties.
“Only a handful of other authorities around the country have adopted this, so Oxfordshire County Council would be at the forefront of this policy, which has already successfully led to behaviour change from those carrying out roadworks in other parts of the country.”
The council has been operating a permit scheme for road and street works since 2020 and receives about 30,000 requests a year. These requests are coordinated, inspected, and enforced to reduce the impact on the travelling public.
However, the permit scheme charges only allow council costs to be recovered and, unlike LRS, doesn’t allow the council to impose specific charges to discourage those requesting to work on the busiest roads at the busiest times.
Benefits of the LRS include:
- encouraging collaborative working between works promoters
- improving the quality of work (to avoid return fees)
- works are undertaken outside of key times
- working smarter will reduce the time taken to complete works, including better use of technology.
Although specific details of the scheme would need to be developed if approval is given, core principles could include no charge for the first two days of a project, off-peak hours operating from 9.30am to 3pm, and the council’s own roadworks would not be exempt from the charges. Roughly five per cent of the highway network would be liable for charges, based on factors such as traffic volume and bus frequency.
Any surplus fees arising from the scheme must be invested back into the highway network to help improve the operation and management of it.
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