Councils and utility companies could face paying up to £5,000 a day if roadworks ‘needlessly inconvenience motorists’, under proposals being looked at by the Transport Secretary.
Patrick McLoughlin is looking at ‘a major crackdown’ on disruption caused by roadworks on local roads and the start of seven-day working.
But the proposals would only apply to councils and utility companies working on local roads, not works on trunk roads by Highways England, such as those currently frustrating motorists on the A1 between Alnwick and Newton on the Moor.
They could face fines of up to £5,000 a day if roadworks are left in place over a weekend, when no one is actually working, while similar charges could also be levied on those who leave temporary traffic lights in place after work has been completed, again on local A-roads.
Workers will either have to work over the weekend or lift the works until they resume.
There is an existing penalty of £5,000 per day for roadworks that overrun.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “I want to deliver better journeys for drivers.
“Roadworks can be essential, but that doesn’t mean they should be in place any longer than is absolutely necessary.
“That is why I am looking at proposals to reduce queues and make drivers’ lives easier.
“These common-sense measures will be a welcome relief to those trying to get from A to B on our local roads.”
On the A1, the southbound closure between Alnwick and Newton on the Moor finally came into effect on Monday, necessitating a contraflow on the northbound carriageway, although the works officially started on Monday, January 11.
This week, there were reports of confusion in Shilbottle as frustrated motorists were unclear whether the Shilbottle or Hampeth junctions were open for access onto the A1.
Another driver complained that there was no sign warning of the closure of the southern Alnwick junction prior to the Denwick turn-off, meaning he had to travel all the way down to the end of the contraflow before coming north again to get into Alnwick.
A spokeswoman for Highways England said: “The start of our resurfacing work on the A1 between Alnwick and Newton on the Moor was delayed due to the recent freezing weather conditions which meant the road surface was too cold to install the temporary reflective road studs for the contraflow system through the roadworks. We are still working towards completing the scheme by mid-February, but this may be put back if the work schedule is affected by poor weather conditions.
“We have also reviewed the temporary signs at Denwick and we will be improving the wording and adding road numbers to clarify the diversion route for motorists. Although we have had some instances of the signs blowing over due to high winds, we are doing our best to prevent this by adding extra weight to the bases and, if necessary, making sure they are put back up as soon as possible.
“In order to complete this work, the southbound carriageway is closed between Alnwick South interchange and Newton on the Moor. This includes the southern entrance to the A1 at Shilbottle and Hampeth. All traffic is now running in both directions on the northbound carriageway using a contraflow system.”