The Department for Transport has told counties across England they can bid for a share of £490m to improve their roads.

The funding, which will be for schemes from 2018 to 2020, is designed to tackle congestion and provide upgrades to local roads to improve journey times.

Bids are encouraged for a wide variety of schemes which will cut congestion, including by making use of technology and by opening up the data held by local councils.

The pot of money is from the National Productivity Investment Fund, which is providing £1.3bn to enhance transport links to boost growth.

Transport minister Andrew Jones said: “We are investing record amounts on our roads – spending more than £23bn on providing better journeys for motorists.

“We are also committing a further £1.3bn up to 2020 to cut congestion and provide important upgrades to ensure our roads are fit for the future.

“This money will allow councils to go even further to improve their roads and will be targeted at areas which need it most, providing a significant boost to the UK’s economy.”

The first tranche of money to councils, £185m, is already making a difference – in the north this includes improving roads in Blackpool, better access to the M65 near Blackburn, improving the A483 and A55 for the expansion of Chester Business Park.

In the south-west, it’s supporting infrastructure for growth and is likely to include a critical link in Bridgwater supporting construction of Hinkley Point C nuclear power station and housing development in south Bridgwater.

Highways England is also spending £220m on congestion relief schemes at identified traffic hotspots. This is providing £90m for pinch point projects in the north, £23m for the Midlands, £53m for the south-east, £32m for the south-west and £16m for the east.

The competition will run until June 30 and councils will be provided with details of how to bid.