Planning is the way to beat roadwork delays
One of the main talking points when it comes to travel is roadworks and the problems they cause for drivers and bus passengers.
And with Summer on its way – traditionally the time when more work takes place on the roads - surely there’s a way to get work done that doesn’t affect the roads?
Oxford, for example, is currently the focus of many major roadworks schemes including road and utility projects.
And why is there so much being done all at once?
Unfortunately, there will always be too much work needed across the county, whether they be road improvements, new junctions for developments, maintenance or utility works, for them to be scheduled one after the other.
In fact, doing one after the other wouldn’t necessarily reduce the impact on the travelling public – it could extend it in many cases.
Short term pain for long term gain
County Councillor Yvonne Constance, Cabinet member for Environment and Economy, said: “All road works are about investment and improvements to public services and we take care to time them when they will cause the least inconvenience to people.
“Roadworks mean things are being fixed – that’s something people are actually very keen on.
“Without the work the long-term disruption to people’s lives would be greater if electricity, water or gas supplies went down through lack of maintenance.
“Councils and utility companies dislike disruption as much as people who use the roads, but the consequences of not doing vital work would be far greater for the travelling public and local residents if gas, water or electricity supplies failed.
“The county council plays a lead role in coordinating all this work – we have a difficult job which has to involve prioritising and coordinating who does what, where and when. There’s very little we can actually stop happening altogether.
“We do have a great deal of influence and can insist utility companies delay work if the overall impact on transport would be to great, but we also have to bear in mind that the nature of the work often dictates when it is done.”
Getting the best mix to ease traffic flows
As the highway authority the county council has a responsibility to allow all necessary work to take place on the roads while minimising its impact – a very tough job.
Our works coordination team In Kidlington look at all the roadworks requests that come in all year round and identify where they may be clashes.
They work closely with all the agencies and ask whether it is essential for their work to happen at the time they have specified – if not then they can look at whether moving the dates of some would help.
Where there’s an unavoidable clash they work closely with those doing the work to find ways to mitigate the impacts where we can.
This could include combining and coordinating traffic management plans, investigating off-peak or night time work or scheduling specific stages of work so that the projects are less disruptive overall.
Public holidays are a good time to do work and you will find that we try wherever possible to get as much done during these times as there is less traffic on the roads. The longer days and dry weather in the summer are also the best time to lay surfacing materials, reducing the risk of early failure.
We also work hard to try to avoid clashes with public events – with the St Giles Fair, for instance, we have worked closely with the city council so that our work on Woodstock Road pauses while they have roads closed for the fair.
Take control of your journeys
As well as coordinating roadworks the county council provides information that allows people to plan their routes to take disruption into account.
BBC Radio Oxford have their traffic and travel reporter based in the traffic control centre in Kidlington so that they can take advantage of up-to-the minute information and see for themselves what’s happening on key routes thanks to the traffic cameras.
Owen Jenkins, Director for Infrastructure Delivery, said: “Taking control of your journeys and thinking beyond the car really can pay dividends.
“Remember, if you are thinking which road you can use as an alternative to avoid the traffic everyone else will be too.
“You don’t have to leave the car at home completely, but if there’s less traffic on the roads at peak times there would effectively be no rush hour.
“Something as simple as more people catching the bus – perhaps by using a park and ride – can take hundreds of cars off key routes in a short space of time. One bus typically occupies about the same amount of road space as three or four cars, but can carry more than 70 passengers.
“If you can’t use the bus or cycle at least part of your journey then you can plan your journey and consider things like different commute times. Setting off early or later can make for an easier journey, and if just 10% of people did this we would virtually eradicate the rush hour queues
The county council also provides a wealth of information on planned roadworks that can be found on www.roadworks.org
Traffic and travel reports based on the information that comes in to the county council’s traffic control centre in Kidlington can be heard on BBC Radio Oxford – 95.2FM, DAB and online. You can also get updates via www.twitter.com/bbcoxtravel