The Government has announced a £15 million funding package for councils across the country to improve traffic signals.
It has also made a commitment to explore how new technology – such as drones and 3D printing – could be used to find and fix potholes.
The package will see councils across England receive a share of the funding to improve their traffic light systems to cut congestion, boost safety and reduce journey times and emissions – a commitment set out in the recently announced Transport Decarbonisation Plan.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “Whether you’re a motorist, cyclist or pedestrian, every road-user across our country deserves the best possible journey. That’s why, despite already having some of the best and safest roads in the world, this Government is providing millions of pounds to improve them further still.
“This vital funding and work will cut journey times for millions of people, reduce emissions and keep the UK at the forefront of technological developments in roads maintenance, as we continue to invest in local economies and build back both better and greener from the pandemic.”
In addition to announcing today’s funding announcement, the Government has also published the findings from a new initiative called the Digital Intelligence Brokerage (DIB), which aims to encourage more work with small and medium enterprises outside of the transport sector and to speed up research into new and innovative ways to fix potholes.
The DIB has already made waves in this area, identifying graphite nanoparticles in asphalt to reduce surface cracks, the use of bio-bitumen materials to create environmentally-friendly road surfaces which contribute to the decarbonisation of highways maintenance, and automated repair operations to minimise risk to road maintenance workers
This work supports wider Government commitments to use advanced technology, such as drones to spot defects in roads and 3D printing to repair cracks.
RAC head of roads policy, Nicholas Lyes, said: “Additional investment to cut congestion and make pothole repairs better for the future is very welcome. Improving traffic lights can make a significant difference to local roads by efficiently maximising the number of vehicles which can safely pass through junctions, while hitting a pothole can be an expensive and even a dangerous experience, so we look forward to seeing how drivers and road users more widely can benefit from the use of 21st century technology to repair their local roads more quickly.”
The £15m announced today builds on the £1.125bn that has already been made available to local authorities for local road maintenance.
Councils will be expected to use the extra funding to repair and improve existing traffic signals but also to consider how to future-proof their local road networks and prepare for technological innovations.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has also announced the development of a new data standard for local road condition monitoring, which will allow councils to use multiple technologies to carry out road condition surveys for national reporting purposes. This will lead to more accurate and useful data being collected, it says.