The government today revealed plans to free up Britain's roads and cut roadwork delays by half.
The Department for Transport wants to start charging utility firms, such as energy or phone companies, by the hour for digging up the highways.
Transport minister Chris Grayling said roadworks are "the bane of drivers’ lives" and the plans would avoid them taking place at the busiest time of the day.
Ministers said the 2.5m roadworks carried out each year cost the economy £4bn because people cannot get to work on time or deliveries are delayed.
Firms could avoid being stung by hourly charges by carrying out works during evenings and weekends or coordinating their plans.
The proposals follow what the government called "successful" trials in London and Kent.
"Delays caused by roadworks can be the bane of drivers’ lives – especially when they take place at rush hour on busy routes," said Grayling.
These proposals would give councils greater powers to ensure utility companies avoid carrying out works at the busiest times and on the most popular routes. This would not only improve journeys and cut congestion but also save businesses from the increased costs they incur as a result of traffic on our roads.
Transport for London welcomed the plans. Managing director of surface transport Leon Daniels said the so-called "lane rental scheme" had been a "resounding success in the capital".
He added: "The amount of severe disruption caused by badly-managed or poorly-timed roadworks more than halved. This has helped improve journey times for bus passengers, drivers and cyclists, while also helping to tackle emissions."
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