New powers which could ease peak time congestion caused by roadworks are due to be discussed by Surrey County Council’s cabinet later this month.
The powers would encourage utility companies and the county council to find innovative ways to make the busiest and most congested roads flow at peak times during roadworks. To do this, there would be extra changes for works which cause delay at rush hour, but not for those which keep traffic moving or are only running during off peak hours.
If approved by cabinet on 23 June, there will be a consultation over the summer, then the Department for Transport will need to give its consent. The proposed roads involved would be listed in the consultation – the law says that five per cent of roads can be part of the scheme, but it can be more if there’s sufficient justification.
The scheme, known as lane rental, has been pioneered in London and Kent. Surrey would be the first county to apply for the scheme since it was opened up to councils in England last year.
Once admin costs have been taken off, money raised goes into a protected fund. The council and utility companies can then jointly decide how it should be spent – but it has to be on ways that reduce disruption and other adverse effects of roadworks.
Matt Furniss, Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “Lane rental is to encourage both the utility companies and us at the council to think creatively about how we can do the works we need but avoid peak time disruption, not about penalising the organisations which need to dig up our roads.
“Congestion is frustrating for drivers and bad for air quality. Stopping vehicles from having to sit in queues with their engines idling is one way we’re looking to reduce transport emissions.
“This combines with our additional investment of £92m to improve and maintain our 3,000 miles of road and pavements, as well as supporting environmentally-friendly travel, like electric buses and upgraded footpaths and cycleways.”