If, like me, you’ve been frustrated by the regular digging up of Norwich Road in North Walsham, you might like to read the County Council’s explanation of their policy. This is what they told me when I asked why temporary traffic lights seem to have been a near permanent feature on the road over the last couple of years:
As Highway Authority our duty is, at all times, to minimize disruption to the travelling public and maintain safety on the network, we have powers and duties under the Traffic Management Act and can levy fines if permit arrangements are not adhered to. There will be , at any one time, numerous planned or emergency activities happening on the highway network which are linked to utility companies , highway improvement, maintenance and other activities who all have certain rights to access and maintain ,repair or renew their assets within the highway, this needs managing to reduce disruption. As Highway Authority we need to be equal handed in how we deal with external bodies and in house activities
My Streetworks Team and Network Co Ordinator manage the coordination of activities on the Highway Network. In the past two years there have been Residential Development linked Highway Improvements and Cadent Gas Utility work along the section of Road in question with associated temporary . When liaising and agreeing with requests for such work the team consider various factors including
- That the highway network is essential to the wellbeing and economy of Norfolk ,we appreciate that Businesses , Members and Residents aspire to free flow of the network
- Advise and support planned work to minimize disruption to the travelling public, Bus companies are under particular pressure to attain journey times, they need to be on board if disruption is planned
- Agree the most appropriate times of the year/ day/ week when work can or cannot go ahead, not one size fits all, seasonal matters and traffic sensitivity play a role here
- Agree methods of working to help facilitate the most efficient delivery of the required works, the team have civils experience and can help advise on methods of working
- Discuss health and safety issues and safe methods of working and signing of works, the safety of our staff, partners and travelling public remain paramount, even more so on fast roads
- Agree the most appropriate diversion routes , sometimes attaining an equal quality diversion route is challenging and can result in longer diversions than the public feel palatable, also rat running likelihood needs to be considered when planning
- Coordinate planned works to minimize disruption taking account of other network issues, collaboration between bodies can be achieved and is a great selling pint
- Agree temporary traffic regulation orders and the permitting of certain works which means we are able to levy fines in instances where agreements are not adhered to, be aware HAUC is very interested to hear from contractors who may be critical of our activities when working on the highway
- Emergency activities, our role is as above but in a more reactive capacity, utility companies need to act swiftly when emergencies happen but must do this in a safe and timely manner with regard to the highway network needs
I trust that this helps to better explain our role and how such work is managed.
I have also asked the Network manager to look at the exact nature of the work to see if he is able to expand on my response
Highway Area Manager North
Hopefully me raising it will encourage them to focus more on the ‘co-ordination’ of planned works. And when I hear from the Network Manager I will share what he has to say.