The city is considering a penalty on contractors, developers or other parties who get permits to close streets or traffic lanes for construction but fail to finish the work on time.
The penalty of $800 a lane per day won tentative approval from the City Council last week and will be considered for final passage Feb. 5.
The city's Transportation Commission asked that the council approve the fee as an incentive to get work finished on time.
"There was concern that there was no strong motivation for this work to be done when it was promised," Public Works Director Les M. Jones said.
Gerald L. Chapman, chairman of the commission, said that the penalty fee "came out of frustration of projects scheduled for six months going 18 months."
"Prior to this, the city had very few tools to get the street open quickly. The developers were on their own schedules and could take as much time as they wanted to," Chapman said.
"The purpose is to make anyone who wants to close the street come up with a realistic time frame."
Chapman said road closures for longer than expected cost taxpayers as well as businesses.
He cited the recent rebuilding of Ellis Avenue between Gothard and Golden West streets, which he estimated cost thousands of dollars because of detours.
That street closing lasted "an extra five or six months," he said.
Those with permits for street closures will not be penalized for delays caused by circumstances beyond their control, such as bad weather, he said.
"We don't want to penalize them for doing all the right things. We just want to encourage them to complete [projects] according to the schedule," Jones said.