Getting roadworks right for the road user

03 March 2017

Road users want to see shorter lengths of roadworks, even if that takes longer for the project to be completed. Driving in narrow lanes with cones, temporary barriers, reduced speed limits and under the glare of average speed cameras is stressful.

Our recent incidents and roadworks research highlighted this as an issue for road users. We have recommended that Highways England looks to constructing its largest schemes by using shorter lengths of roadworks or completing the work in phases.

This week we’ve been out driving on the M6 in Cheshire where there is a new smart motorway being built between junction 16 (Crewe) and junction 19 (Knutsford). The scheme started construction in December 2015 and will be completed in early 2019. Originally, the scheme had a relatively shorter set of roadworks at nine miles but this has gradually extended to nearer 20 miles. It’s being done this way to hit project deadlines. But is this at the expense of what road users actually want?

Drivers who need to travel long distances in the UK will probably experience multiple sets of roadworks and so the potential for disruption to their journey will be increased. Add to this the needs of the haulage industry, coach operators, people needing to make deliveries and those driving for meetings makes for concerning reading.

We’ve seen that Highways England are listening to its customers more and this is welcomed. Our research provides a valuable insight into what road users want and where we’ve made recommendations, should make things better for road users. Highways England must take account of this feedback to demonstrate genuine change. With roads investment increasing, it is vital that Highways England does more with roadworks to reduce pressure on road users.

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