Transport User Voice – February 2019 – Winning for A66 road users
04 February 2019
In 2016 Transport Focus published Incidents and roadworks – A road user perspective, following research that looked at road users’ experiences when there are unplanned incidents and planned roadworks on England’s motorways and major ‘A’ roads.
Since then Transport Focus has been working with Highways England to ensure that users are fully considered when planning roadworks. It recently identified the A66 as one such project where Transport Focus could help make a difference for road users.
Over seven weekends in September and October 2018, this important trans-Pennine route was set to close to traffic to allow work to take place.
Transport Focus emphasised several recommendations arising from its research that were relevant, including the involvement of freight companies in roadworks planning, better accuracy and clarity of roadworks information online, and better communication with road users at the roadside.
With help from Transport Focus, the team developed several solutions that departed from the ‘usual way’ for such projects. This included Highways England carrying out an extensive exercise to establish which freight companies regularly use the route. This resulted in contact with over 400 operators, letters to 88 UK ports providing important roadworks information, and the placement of more than 1000 signs on key routes so that drivers could make earlier decisions about the best route to take. Highways England also developed a text messaging subscription service, increased social and traditional media presence, and developed closer working with local councils to understand user needs.
The A66 project demonstrates that Highways England can make a significant difference for road users when it strives to do things differently and seeks to make positive changes based on Transport Focus’s research. Further details are explained in the full case study.
Going forward, Transport Focus encourages Highways England to think about how it can make the overall thought process and positive actions taken by its A66 team the ‘business practice as usual’ approach to roadworks planning throughout the company, however large or small the project.