/ Motoring

Bring on hefty fines for rush hour roadworks

Wouldn’t it be better if roadworks were only carried out at night? Well, Transport for London (TfL) will soon be allowed to charge utility companies a hefty fee for digging up London’s roads during rush hour.

Would you like a similar measure to be introduced in your area?

Forget the Budget – and spiralling fuel costs that are set to soar even higher in August – if you’re looking for some good car-related news this week, look to London. The Department for Transport has agreed to let TfL introduce a ‘lane rental scheme’.

No, this isn’t a scare story like the talk by David Cameron on selling our roads off to China or India. This is a sensible move that will allow the capital’s transport department to charge utility companies a hefty fee for digging up roads during the morning and afternoon rush hours.

The aim is to encourage them to do roadworks at night or outside peak hours, minimising disruption for all road users.

Out-of-hours roadworks

Out-of-hours works are frequently carried out on our motorways. Sure, I’ve cursed when caught in a traffic jam at midnight on the M25 due to the motorway going down to a single lane for carriageway repairs. But I’m definitely far less upset than I would have been if it had happened during the day when I was on the way to a meeting.

So I applaud the Department of Transport’s move, as it may just help ease congestion on our overcrowded roads.

And perhaps it’ll put an end to the flurry of roadworks that always seem to happen at this time of year; with councils presumably trying to use up their financial year’s remaining budget. Just this week, four sets of traffic light works have sprung up on my 15-mile route from the suburbs into central London.

Have you heard of any other local authorities setting up similar schemes, where utilities are fined for rush hour works? Would you like roadworks to be relegated to sleeping hours?

Should utilities only be allowed to do roadworks at night?

Maybe, just as long as roadworks are outside peak hours (54%, 79 Votes)

Yes, roadworks shouldn't be done during the daytime (31%, 45 Votes)

No, roadworks should be allowed whenever they like (14%, 21 Votes)

Total Voters: 145

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No road works on major trunk roads or motorways should be allowed in school holidays unless the road can be proved to be in a dangerous condition.
Otherwise all repairs and utility works should be done at night between the hours of 8pm and 5am, especially in urban areas.
In the event that works have to be done in rush hours they should be accompanied by a heavy fine on the operators.
If the rules were made clear there would be no hardship as they would be adhered to from scratch.

njr says:
23 March 2012

Absolutely at night.

Why not at Night then.
Because of the number of complaints from residents whose sleep is disturbed. Non emergency night time road works has been virtually illegal in urban areas for years.

During weekends.
Messing up our leisure time.

During the day.
Interferes with rush hour traffic and day to day working.

This is why the majority of roadworks (in towns) takes place during school hours, this attracts the least number of complaints.

No matter when these works are scheduled, there are those who will complain

Lima Tango says:
23 March 2012

Regretfully we have become too reliant on ‘clear roads’ than any time in the past, and to simply state that all road works should be performed at night or during non-peak hours is for the simple minded. A road patch here and there, or minor repairs, are good candidates for night work. Major underground infrastructure repairs or maintenance cannot possibly be performed in a single pass during one night. Get real, people.

njr says:
30 March 2012

I think we’re talking at cross purposes here. The fact is it is far easier to get major or minor works undertaken at night. Of course with major works then 24/7 interruption is needed but the key to this is coordinated action from bodies like the GLA in London. Logistically one of the better options might be to shut down an entire road to speed up things. I think we all know how hopeless temporary traffic lights are. Works need to be done but these are best done at night if possible!

chrissy-baby says:
23 March 2012

Yes, this is a blooming good idea! Many times work seems to be started at the most illogical times, and I’m sure nobody has considered the upset and frustration that the roadworks will cause. I quite frequently see roadworks that have been abandoned halfway through, because the necessary items have not been ordered? When roadworks are taking place in heavy traffic it MUST be more difficult for the workers themselves and the job may well take longer because of having to cope with the traffic.

Ray Butler says:
23 March 2012

With the cost of fuel wasting away in hundreds of road work delays ,this is a good idea.You often find 50 vechicles being delayed by one or two workmen drinking tea!

It’s a shame th AA, RAC and IAM do not fight the motorists corner more, they have got too close to Goverment.

Just added a poll for you all to vote in: Should utilities only be allowed to do roadworks at night?

Make sure you vote, interested to see what the results will be…

I ask;
Would you accept your road being resurfaced at night?
If you think road works are loud during the day, try lying in bed at 2am on Tuesday morning whilst your road is being resurfaced.
Think how you would react if the binmen came at 3am, this is hundreds of time worse.
The reason roadworks do not take place in urban areas is because consumers, that is us, fought to stop this disruptive practice.
Of course the Govt’ would prefer night time road works, all these daytime works do is disrupt the economy.
But we fought to retain the right to have an uninterrupted nights sleep.
So please all think of the price you are now willing to pay for some inconvenience to our driving.

The problem is that local authorities and the Highways agency do not co-odernate works properly, and of course the ‘end of year spend budget fenzy’ Claire descibes at the end of her article.

Noise would be an issue in built up areas at night, especially in summer when people have windows open.

Why do road workers not work shifts? They work 8 hours a day and it may take time to travel to site. What about an early and late shift to get it done twice as quick?

They should also be made to monitor temp traffic lights manually to allow traffic to flow better during peak times.

Lorena says:
23 March 2012

It is not a good idea to have roadwork carried out at night, unless it is far from any housing; everybody should be able to sleep undisturbed. Utility companies should be obliged to carry out any work in the least possible time (any job should be independently timed) with penalties to be handed over as refunds to all their customers. For sure utilities should not be allowed to pass on their fines to the customers which is what they most likely would do.

njr says:
30 March 2012

Well what would you rather: a couple of nights of “disturbed” sleep or a week perhaps a month or so of day time delays and chaos? Don’t forget many workers in this country actually work through the night, which if you’ve travelled around the world might have actually noticed. The world doesn’t operate 9 to 5.

njr says:
23 March 2012

Point is that generally people are selfish: “not in my back yard, not as I try to get work etc”. If you live or commute to and from London you’ll come to understand that essential repairs to the rail network and Tube are undertaken at night and at weekends but inevitably faults do occur during the day. It can be frustrating but so are all delays.

What I find deeply frustrating as a Londoner is utilities companies that continue to carve up a piece of road and then sit on it for weeks seemingly. As with the police it’s rare to see anyone doing any roadworks at all. Bit like NOT seeing a bobby on the beat!

The Highways Agency, local authorities, the GLA and the Department for Transport really need to get their act together. What of the environmental and economic aspect to all of this: more pollution due to vehicles sitting idle in traffic; and with ever rising costs in fuel prices, a greater hit to the purse.

If urgent repairs need to be done and at night then buy a pair of earplugs and some sleeping pills!

Doing the work at night time is obviously a good idea in theory but, in practice, what would happen – as now – would be that the parts of the roads which are to be worked on would remain coned off, thereby creating delays for traffic whether the work was actually happening at that moment or not.

What about the increased costs of carrying out work at night? Presumably those who are in favour would be happy with an increase in fuel tax and/or vehicle excise duty. It would be interesting to see comparative costs of day and night work for the same task and also a comparison of the number of accidents.

By all means try to avoid rush hour but I think we need to be realistic and not expect all repairs to be carried out at night.

Road Works at night, is this going far enough ?

Disturbed sleep, limited hours to do the works means temporary closures (of the works – if the carrigeway can be made useable by traffic), extra cost of labour working unsociable hours – it’ll end up on YOUR utility bill ! Encouraging utilities to get on to and off roads quicker has been the source of a lot of thinking since the demise of the Public Utilities Street Works Act of 1956. The best we can do is (purportedly) to ‘hit them in the pocket’ (see my comment above – we, the consumer will pick up the bill). Lane Rental (as much as much as I don’t like the idea) is the way forward PROVIDED all utilities, local authorities and any other similar organisations work together to plan and execute street works simultaneously. Yes, apportioning costs of trenching, reinstatement and guaranteeing the works etc. will be complicated but it’s not rocket science. Planning the works by the various undertakers can be computerised (a lot of information is gathered by the highway authorities now) and cost apportionment needs the meeting of minds that want the system to succeed. Emergency works will always be required at unsociable / uneconomic times but then we don’t live in an ideal world.

Why is it that the default solution to problems like this is to slap a fine on the offending party?
In reality the value of the fine always ends up coming from us the public at large. The offending company just increases prices to whoever (usually us) to pay this fine.
So at the end of the day the victim ends up indirectly paying the fine. How is that helping anything?
The only way is to make those who actually manage these cockups personally responsible, and they should personally pay the fine.

Then it might actually do some good.
Think of the managers of energy supply companies and banks who could have been personally been stung, proper justice and much to the delight of us all.

Surely the importnat thing is to ensure roadwaorks are completed in the shortest possible time. To do that then utilitiy companies should have to pay for the road they are closing at a goodly rate depending on the amont of traffic inconvenienced. If time was costly then maybe it would pay them to get on wiht the job. Seing roadwoarks with nobody evenm on site is not good enoutgh. Staring work at 9 or 9.30, stoppinhg for lunch and tea breaks, then going off the job at 4 pm is not good enough. Traffic interuptions cost us all in many ways so if the utilities have to pass on the costs so be it we all pay one way or another and congsetion is very expensive.

Andy McIntyre says:
2 December 2015

All non-emergency road-works should, at least, be STARTED at night-time. Then come morning, if the holes/trenches cannot be safely bridged with temporary thick-steel panels due to their size, then by all means continue with them during the day.