Monday, 9 March 2009

Roadworks and False Economy

Yesterday, there were huge delays caused by roadworks between Beaumont and Bel Royal, with the Jersey Water company doing work, almost certainly of an emergency nature. Looking along the road, I can see at least two other spots where the road has been dug up and filled in since the massive resurfacing that took place last year (with diversions and night working). The utility company is often frantic to get the site cleared away afterwards as quickly as possible for the motorist - Sundays was there at 10.00 am, still there at 1.00 (I was passing back!) but gone by 6.00 pm. But this speed of repair and reinstatement of the surface can be a false economy.

In New Zealand, they are starting to cost the road resurfacing work into the equation, and note that:

The cost of works nationally is not just felt by private motorists or businesses trying to use the road - Local Government New Zealand has estimated that the national cost of re-work and repairs associated with utility works is $40 million each year. It costs about $250,000 per lane kilometre to fully reinstate a road surface after works.

Closer to home, in England, the MB for Denton and Reddish, Andrew Gwynne commented on street works caused by utilities,
So bad is the situation that Tameside council has launched a campaign, "restore the roads", which the borough's three MPs are supporting to highlight the problem. Tameside council believes that our roads should be dug up only once in any year by the utility companies-very different from the 8,000 separate diggings that the borough had to suffer last year alone from a potential 106 different firms, all in a borough with only 442 miles of road! This continued work can lead to an unsightly patchwork effect of repair, which affects my constituents' everyday movements and quality of life. Basically, the law needs to be changed to allow for the full cost of restoration of the whole length of road by the body that carries out any digging, and for full ownership restoration of the roads with absolute permission being required from the council to carry out any digging.

David Heyes (MP for Ashton-under-Lyne) noted that:

Oldham road is a good example of that. In preparation for it becoming a quality bus corridor, the road surface was reconstructed. Within weeks, the utilities arrived and the pneumatic drills got to work. In next to no time, that splendid new road was pockmarked and potholed because of inadequate reinstatement. Does my hon. Friend agree that that causes long-term and expensive damage, and that it is time that local authorities such as ours were given powers to re-charge utilities with the true cost of putting right this long-term damage to the integrity of our roads?

That is a good question which should be asked locally!


1 comment:

David Rotherham said...

Parish Roads Committees have powers to ban or control roadworks on at least parish roads, although i am not sure if main roads are also under their jurisdiction.
When they laid mains water and drains in my lane a few years ago, we had to connect quickly, because the parish put a 3 year ban on digging it back up after complete resurfacing.