TRANSPORT FOR London (TfL) said this week that it was considering offering utilities a reduced charge for digging up roads during off-peak periods.
The offer will apply if they agree to work out of peak hours after the Traffic Management Act is fully enforced early next year.
The act aims to tackle congestion caused by inefficiently managed work by utilities and local authorities.
TfL said it wanted to use the Act to incentivise utility contractors to work outside peak hours.
It is to discuss the plans with London boroughs this week.
The Act comes into force on 1 September. Utilities will have to notify local authorities of all planned work to allow their projects to be co-ordinated with other firms or local authorities.
From early 2006 the Act will be toughened up through local authority permit schemes which could include charging utilities lane rental for the duration of their works.
Utilities have opposed the Act, claiming that the cost of lane rental will have to be passed on to consumers. The Department for Transport is drawing up a code of practice that must balance the needs of utilities against the demand for fewer disruptions.
In an attempt to placate utilities, Transport for London has drawn up proposals to vary rates.
'We should look at incentivising utilities to do work at the right time rather than penalising them for poor performance, ' said TfL director of road network performance Nick Morris.
The rate for lane rental has yet to be set, but in trials in Camden TfL has charged utilities £500 a day, with the charge rising to £750 if remedial works are required.