The government-run organisation in charge of England’s motorways and major A-roads has announced new plans to reduce disruption from roadworks. National Highways says it is developing “a series of measures” to mitigate the effects of ”vital” work across the strategic road network.
Among the measures are moves to introduce higher speed limits past work sites when it is safe to do so, as well as bringing in “clearer” messaging for drivers and “more effective” diversion routes. National Highways has also said it is considering increasing the number of full road closures to complete work more rapidly, thereby reducing the number and duration of partial closures.
The organisation says its new approach is intended to save the taxpayer’s money and minimise the impact of roadworks on local communities and drivers. It’s also claimed the measures are “likely” to reduce carbon emissions from “construction equipment”, and will “minimise the risks to worker safety”.
The plans are already in use at a small number of locations, including the construction of a new bridge over the M42 in the Midlands. There, the rail bridge is being built through two closures over consecutive Christmas periods in 2021 and 2022, when traffic is expected to be at its lightest. National Highways says the alternative would be 18 months of lane closures, narrow lanes and speed restrictions, as well as more than 100 overnight closures.
Plans are also being created to complete improvements to the A47 and A11 junction outside Norwich via one full nine-day closure and a “limited number” of night closures. Alternatively, National Highways says it would need almost three years of lane closures, contraflows and 30mph speed limits to complete the work.
“Our roads are the most heavily used in the country and millions of people rely on them every day for business, leisure and visiting friends and family,” said Laura Baker, the customer service director for major projects at National Highways. “It’s vital that we undertake an intensive programme of maintenance and improvements to keep them as safe and reliable as possible.
“We already aim to carry out this work in the least disruptive way possible by prioritising times when traffic levels are low, including overnight and at weekends. However, prolonged roadworks can be stressful for drivers and local communities so we’re committed to exploring other ways to further minimise the impact.”