The UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) has launched a £348m funding competition for councils seeking to improve roads in their local areas.

In order to secure the funding, local authorities are required to submit their project for work on important road maintenance projects, including upkeep of bridges and viaducts.

Funds can also be requested for other projects such as major pothole repairs and to reduce congestion on the busiest roads.

Funding will be provided in two sets over the next four years.

The Challenge Fund will be the first trench of investment and will be available for this year. Over the next year, nearly £200m will be provided.

Under the Pinch Point Fund, the second set of funding will be made available in 2021-22 and 2022-23 and totals £150m.

It will be offered for council projects seeking to decrease congestion on the busiest roads.

These include improving the links between the A12 and A143 to open up housing and commercial development land. It also comprises the construction of new roads to enable buses to bypass single lane roads, linking main roads with new housing developments.

UK Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Local roads are the backbone of the transport network for drivers up and down the country, but we know that some aren’t up to the standard they need to be.

“Whether it’s congestion or quality, we need to empower local authorities to invest in these roads and make journeys safer and stress-free.

“That’s exactly what this funding will do, over four years we’re providing more than a third of a billion pounds to make sure local authorities have the cash they need to make this a reality.”

Between 2015 and 2021, the department will be investing more than £6.6bn.