Economic Impact of Road Works

Economic Impact of Road Works


K Arter, Colin Buchanan, UK


A paper examining the congestion costs associated with road works in London and providing recommendations on how to incentivise improved efficiency in the undertaking of road works.


On any given day, thousands of road works are undertaken in London. These works are undertaken by private sector utilities (of which there are over 100) and the 34 highway authorities (Transport for London (TfL) and the boroughs) in a rough 50:50 split.

London?s main road network combines high levels of demand, often throughout the day, with a high proportion of business travel. When road works take place on this network they impose significant congestion and reliability costs on road users and businesses.

A road work permit scheme has just been introduced by TfL, with the aim of improving co-ordination of road works and hence reducing unnecessary road delays. It will also make it easier for authorities to challenge the proposed timescale of individual works. Nonetheless, it seems that the scheme will overall have little effect on traffic congestion caused by road works and will be costly to administer.

This paper will provide a quantification of the congestion costs associated with road works in London and provide recommendations on pricing-related solutions towards incentivising improved efficiency in the undertaking of road works.

There are three broad objectives for the design of a pricing scheme:

- Pricing ? the price must be lower than the external costs imposed on road users and yet be high enough to bring about behavioural change on the part of utilities and highway authorities;

- Differential pricing ? prices need to reflect variations in congestion by covering particular time periods, locations and / or road types; and

- Administration costs and simplicity ? the system should minimise administration costs and / or build on the administrative system in place for the permit scheme. Any increases in administrative costs need to be offset against the benefits that such a system would bring.

The options identified will be assessed against those objectives, with any problems or issues highlighted.


Association for European Transport