Everyday countless UK drivers are delayed and frustrated by roadworks. Sometimes it is only a minor pothole repair and the disruption is gone the following day, however, many roadworks seem to carry on forever.
Part of the reason for the more than 4 million annual road excavations taking so long is that often no one knows what they are going to find under the road. The problem is exacerbated when dealing with old workings such as Victorian water, sewage and gas supplies and some of the first mains electric cabling.
Fortunately the UK cartographers have come to the rescue by publishing maps of what is underneath the ground. This is designed to make sure that whoever is digging up the road will be able to pinpoint exactly where they need to dig and hopefully the roadworks will be quicker.
The maps will be based on existing diagrams and will be made available to contractors on hand held computers.
It is hoped that the project will cut the average annual £5 billion cost of congestion caused by excavations, which themselves cost £1 billion every year.
"Reducing road works would bring enormous economic and environmental benefits," commented an industry expert.
The plan will also include a project to tag pipes as they are laid so that they can be detected with a radio scanner.