Road Works Could be More Closely Regulated
Stricter controls over utility companies
When utility companies dig up roads - like Thames Water on Putney Bridge and west along the Upper Richmond Road - it causes diversions, delays and general inconvenience for drivers. Sometime the works overrun producing more misery.
However, such problems could soon be a thing of the past.
Transport for London has submitted its application for a new London Permit Scheme to the Department for Transport.
The permit scheme, which is also being applied for by 18 London boroughs including Wandsworth, will regulate street works and ensure that any company that wants to dig up London roads agrees to conditions and timing that limit the consequential disruption.
Feedback from consultation has led to a section that will ensure the needs of disabled and Visually Impaired pedestrians are taken into consideration when it is necessary to work on footpaths or alter road crossings.
The scheme could be in place before the end of this year, and will mean street works are undertaken as quickly as possible and at the same time as other necessary works at the location, wherever practical.
Around one million holes dug in London’s roads each year, with little or no regulation.
There are more than 100 utility companies and they are currently only required to give short notice of upcoming works – 80 per cent of works are carried out in less than three days notice to the highway authority.
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: "Londoners are tired of sitting in jams caused by traffic being funnelled through a slalom course of cones and temporary fencing, which often seem to be cordoning off nothing but abandoned equipment. When companies dig up our roads they must be mindful of the disruption they are causing and keep it to an absolute minimum.
"We have introduced a voluntary code of conduct, working with the companies on keeping the roads clearer, but a crucial step is to give the process some real teeth, which is what we are asking the Government to empower us to do with this permit scheme."
The Mayor is already working with the utility companies to improve the situation, including persuading Thames Water and two other utility companies to plate over works trenches when they are not in use.
David Brown, Managing Director of Surface Transport at Transport for London, said: “After a full consultation we have taken on board all the feedback received and we are now ready to submit the scheme to the DfT for approval.
“With a permit scheme in place, anyone who wants to dig up the road will have to think carefully about the impact their works will have on motorists, pedestrians and local residents, and will have to find the best way to reduce that impact before they start.
“From reducing the noise of road drills at night to ensuring that organisations work on the same stretch of road at the same time, this scheme is something that could really reduce the effects of roadworks on Londoners and make it easier to move around the Capital.
“TfL and the London boroughs have worked very closely on defining a common scheme for London while liaising with the utility companies and other organisations, and the outcome demonstrates the type of joint working that this project demands.”
Local authorities currently have limited powers to control where, when and for how long they can dig up roads - regardless of the chaos they may cause.
The final decision rests with the Secretary of State for Transport. A decision is expected in the next three months.
July 29, 2009