Traffic Cones Come Out Of Hibernation

And spring up like Daffodils

15 March 2008

March is traditionally the worst time for traffic cones and road works, according to the AA today. New regulations to help coordinate roadworks come into force from 1 April 2008 but the AA questions how effective the changes will be.

Regulations included in the Traffic Management Act 2004 declare that all road and street-works activities in England and Wales should be recorded. Utility companies must also provide local authorities with coordinates showing where work is to be carried out.

Traditionally there were more roadworks in March as local authorities who had under spent on road maintenance rushed to spend their budget in fear of losing it. Even though today the money is not ring-fenced for roads, many local authorities increase the amount of road works in springtime. One reason is that roads may have suffered more damage due to poor winter weather. Another reason is that the weather tends to improve in March so road improvements are likely to be less disrupted by adverse weather.

More than 250 utility companies also have the right to dig up the roads and they are digging more than 2.4 million holes per year. This costs more than £4.3 billion in congestion costs.

Despite legislation in the 1991 New Roads and Streetworks Act and 2004 Traffic Management Act, many of the measures meant to improve the situation have been watered down or delayed.

Often it is unclear who is responsible for the chaos caused when the same stretch of road is constantly dug up.

Commenting, Edmund King, AA president said: "It often seems that workmen come out of hibernation in March and road cones spring up like daffodils. This causes congestion, chaos and doesn't help climate change.

"It does seem ironic that we put a man on the moon 39 years ago yet we don't seem to have cracked how to co-ordinate road works.

"The register of streetworks and fixed penalty notices for those overstaying should help but we are not holding our breath."

Notes to editors

Back in 1967 John Lennon wove together several newspaper stories to create "A Day in the Life". The lines about the "four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire" stemmed from an article in the Daily Mail which reported "one-twentieth of a pothole" for every Blackburn resident in the streets. Some things never seem to change.


15 March 2008