The UK government is funding an innovative new digital system that will enable the country’s drivers to plan their journeys better to avoid roadworks and their inevitable delays.
The UK Department for Transport (DfT) is investing up to £10m (US$12.8m) in Street Manager, a digital planning service due to launch next year that will make more consistent, accurate data on street works available to motorists, replacing the existing costly and ineffective system. Unlike current data on road works that is often out of date and incomplete, Street Manager will generate real-time data and will be free for technology companies and app developers to use. This will allow existing apps and information providers, such as Waze and Google maps, to enhance their services making them even more accurate and allow other firms to create new products to help drivers avoid jams. It could see the latest data being shared via satnavs and app ‘push’ notifications to help motorists choose a new route.
Street Manager will replace an out-of-date and ineffective system currently in use by local authorities and utility companies, allowing them to accurately record and share data better on the 2.5 million road works that take place in England each year. It will support them to collaborate on joint works and better coordinate timings so that drivers do not get caught up in multiple works. It will also support local businesses across the country by helping stop delivery vehicles from getting stuck in traffic jams caused by road works.
Alongside this, the government has published new bidding guidance on lane rental schemes, which enable councils across England to charge utility companies up to £2,500 (US$3,210) per day for carrying out road works on the busiest roads at peak times. The guidance informs local authorities as to how they can develop a lane rental scheme, and includes a new calculator for assessing the costs and benefits of schemes. It will also help utility companies to work with local authorities to avoid charges by coordinating works, or working at quieter times, benefitting all road users, especially those traveling at peak times. Pilot lane rental schemes in London and Kent saw congestion on the busiest roads drop by half, saving drivers time and boosting the economy.
“Roadworks can often be frustrating for motorists, especially when they cause hold-ups at busy times and delay journeys,” explained UK Roads Minister, Jesse Norman, announcing the new service. “We want to reduce this disruption and delay, and Street Manager is just one of a number of actions we are taking so that local authorities and utility companies can better plan and manage their roadworks. The data opened up by this new digital service should enable motorists to plan their journeys better, so they can avoid works and get to their destinations more easily.”