When darkness falls…seeing overnight roadworks in action

03 July 2015

We are building our capacity and capability to represent users of the English Strategic Road Network – the motorways and major A roads in other words.

Myself and our road user director went out last week to see overnight re-surfacing work on the M42 south of Birmingham. Highways England and Kier (its contractors) showed us around. An impressive sight to say the least. Well organised, quick and with professional hard working staff – a good advert for the road industry.  It is worth remembering that the M42 was closed eastbound (a major route for overnight freight) and traffic was being sent on a diversion.

See the pictures below for an idea of what our journey was like.

The next day we drove down the M54. Miles, upon miles of roadworks and cones (pictured). Eventually the traffic slowed to a crawl approaching Telford.

It wasn’t at all clear why the inside lane was shut, the resurfacing was complete and white lines put back. No clue about when the road would reopen. Not a soul to be seen doing anything. Frustrating, given what we had seen the night before.

As major road schemes and re-surfacing start to take place under the Government’s welcome five year major road plan there will need to be better information than what we experienced. This won’t be easy as you do not know who is going to turn up on the roads, but we will work with Highways England to improve this. From our initial research we know that feeling in control is a key part of the user experience, this did not feel like being in control.

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