HL Deb 04 February 1999 vol 596 cc236-7WA
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What actions they propose to take to ensure that roadworks are not commenced until the contractors are in a position to carry them out without significant interruption; and [HL736]

Whether they will introduce the principle of "lane rental" for all road repairs, so that the passage of traffic is not impeded any longer than necessary. [HL737]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty)

Whenever planned roadworks are likely to cause unavoidable and significant disruption to users of the trunk road network, particular care is taken to introduce adequate incentives into contracts, such as "lane rental". These are designed to ensure the works are completed as quickly as possible.

However, on trunk roads during 1997–98, this form of contract was used for 31 out of 34 major maintenance schemes, plus 18 other schemes valued at less than £1 million.

Lane rental is not appropriate for all roadworks—for example, where the full extent of the necessary repairs, or potential difficulties, cannot be identified until work has begun. Experience also shows that the additional cost of lane rental cannot be justified on smaller contracts where traffic disruption is not expected to be significant. It is available to local highway authorities for use on their roads in appropriate circumstances.

There can he many reasons for apparent lack of activity on part of a road coned off to traffic. For example, newly laid road surfacing materials might be hardening or, at a bridge or culvert, work might be under way out of sight beneath the road. The putting out and taking in of road cones can be a hazardous activity, and so where works are staged, and the time period between stages is brief, then cones are sometimes left in place for safety reasons.