Highways England could allow drivers to travel at increased speed through motorway roadworks depending on the day of the week.
For example the speed could be increased to 60mph on a Sunday if there is less activity taking place, and then brought back down to 50mph when road workers are working within a few feet of passing traffic.
It is also exploring if different speed limits could operate within one set of roadworks.
This could mean people commute to work on one carriageway at 50mph as they are nearer the workforce, but drive home on the other carriageway at 60mph as the road workers are further away.
Jim O’Sullivan, chief executive of Highways England, said: “People understand roadworks are necessary but are also frustrated by them. At the same time we have to ensure as they drive through them that they, and our road workers, are safe.
“Over the next 12 months we will test changes to the design and operation of roadworks.”
During roadworks narrow lanes are installed to provide a safe working area for the workforce. Doing this means as many lanes as possible can remain open to traffic.
Currently, Highways England operates a 50mph (or lower) limit in narrow lanes but this year they will test whether it is safe to operate at 60mph in certain circumstances. This might include consideration of the width of the narrow lanes or the type of temporary safety barriers that are used.
Locations for the trials are yet to be agreed. Once underway Highways England will monitor the speed of vehicles, flow of traffic, look at incident data and gather customer feedback to determine its success.
The trials are outlined in the company’s Delivery Plan Update for 2018/19, published today.
The Plan sets out how the company is continuing to deliver the Government’s £15bn road investment programme (2015 to 2020).