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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Who manages roads, motorways and roadworks

Find out who is responsible for maintaining our roads, learn more about roadworks and who manages them and who keeps the roads safe in winter.

Local roads

Councils and local authorities are responsible for local roads. Most councils have information on local roadworks, road closures and diversions on their websites.

London's major roads

Transport for London (TfL) manages the Transport for London Road Network (TLRN), London's 580 kilometre network of main roads. However, this doesn't include the motorways, which the Highways Agency manage.

TfL also manages all of London's traffic lights. TfL's main role is to implement the Major's transport strategy for London, available on their website, and manage transport services across the capital. See the TfL website for more information.

TfL runs a traffic alert service to help drivers plan journeys and avoid delays from accidents, roadworks, incidents and other events. TfL also gives information on current congestion, planned works and road closures due to events being held in the capital.

The rest of London's road network (smaller, local roads) is managed by the 32 London boroughs and the Common Council of the City of London. If you need to speak to someone about a problem with a local road, you should contact your local council.

Trunk roads and motorways

Trunk roads (defined as the most strategic roads in the country) and motorways are not controlled by local authorities.


The Highways Agency is responsible for trunk roads and motorways in England.

Follow the link below to download a network map of England's motorways and trunk roads.

For up-to-date information on roadworks and traffic conditions on motorways and trunk roads visit Traffic England on the Highways Agency website.

You can also get Highways Agency traffic information on your mobile. Simply enter the following link into your mobile's browser:

when it is safe to do so.


The Transport Directorate of  the Welsh Assembly is responsible for trunk roads and motorways in Wales.

You can find more information about the transport work of the Welsh Assembly Government by following the link below.

Traffic Wales delivers live traffic reports and journey planning advice for major routes across the region via:

  • media bulletins
  • an information line (0845 602 6020)
  • the Traffic Wales website


Transport Scotland, an agency of the Scottish Government, is responsible for maintaining trunk roads and motorways in Scotland. You can find out more by following the link below.

Traffic Scotland (formerly NADICS) provides up-to-the-minute information about road conditions.


Why we need roadworks

England's motorways and trunk roads are the busiest in Europe, with 153 billion kilometres travelled each year on a road network of over 7,000 kilometres. That's a lot of wear and tear!

With this volume of traffic, motorway road surfaces usually last between 10 and 15 years.

Roadworks may include any of the following tasks:

  • resurfacing or repairing the carriageway
  • maintaining safety fences, barriers or road markings
  • building new carriageways or widening existing roads
  • cutting grass at junctions or on central reservations to improve visibility
  • clearing drains and drainage systems to avoid damage to the road
  • clearing litter
  • changing lightbulbs in the central reservation
  • emergency road repairs after traffic accidents
  • works being carried out by utility companies

The roadworks you don't see

Most of this work is done at night or in off-peak periods so that drivers are not delayed. If you see roadworks signs or traffic cones left out and no one working, this will usually be for safety reasons. For example, because:

  • hard shoulders or safety barriers have been affected by the maintenance or improvement works and need temporary protection
  • work is being carried out off the highway and out of your sight
  • it is unsafe for road workers to remove and replace the cones every day

Roadworks and congestion

Most delays are caused by volume of traffic or by accidents, not roadworks. Highways Agency data shows the causes of congestion on motorways and trunk roads in England as follows:

  • 65 per cent caused by volume of traffic
  • 25 per cent caused by accidents
  • 10 per cent caused by roadworks

Understanding roadworks signs

Unsure of your roadworks signs?

The Highway Code section of Directgov features downloadable pictures of signs you are likely to see at roadworks.

Managing the road network in winter

The bodies that are responsible for our roads also keep them clear of ice and snow in winter. Highways authorities have salt spreaders (gritters), snowploughs and snowblowers on alert all winter. These help to prevent ice forming and snow building up on motorways and trunk roads. 

For more information, see 'Safety in extreme weather'.

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