Jackie Hook

Liberal Democrat County Councillor Newton Abbot North, District Councillor Bushell Ward Learn more

Why So Many Road Works?

by Jackie Hook on 2 April, 2019

Below the text of my article that appeared in this month’s Highweek Herald.

Road works, why so many, why aren’t they better coordinated, and who monitors what is going on? Many of you have rightly contacted me with these queries over the last couple of months. We, as residents on the west side of Newton Abbot have been particularly suffering with an outbreak of temporary traffic lights.

As we know, housing development is proceeding at some pace in our town, and quite rightly residents expect these developments to be accompanied by infrastructure improvements. Whether we should be having this level of housing development is a topic I covered in last month’s Highweek Herald, but on the west side of Newton Abbot we have already taken many hundreds of new houses. The resultant traffic generated has added to existing congestion, and new residents have tried to find their way around that congestion with Highweek Village being a favourite cut through.

Unfortunately, as of now, highway engineers haven’t found a way to improve roads without partially closing them whilst works are carried out! Disruption is inevitable. Some of those works for example on Ashburton Rd are about trying to achieve a different future where we are encouraged to take to cycling or walking as a way to get to school, work etc.

As well as new and improved roads, statutory undertakers, gas, water, BT etc have a legal right to access their facilities under our roads, and a timeframe by which they must provide new services, eg. to housing developments. These utility companies are responsible for 40,000 sets of road works in Devon each year.

On top of these our road network needs constant maintenance, actually a lot more than it is currently getting. DCC employs different contractors, about 25, to carry out these works, 45% of maintenance work is carried out by Skanska, who are about 2 years into their contract with DCC. Other contractors are responsible for street lighting, traffic signals etc.

A further 14 or so contractors are available for improvements eg.  the cycle route along Ashburton Rd, being carried out by Alun Griffiths.

Contracts are audited and if contractors produce sub-standard work they must come back and put it right at their own cost. They will also have a “maintenance period” where if the work fails they would again need to come back and rectify it.

The vast majority of the funding for works on our roads, that is related to new development, is paid for by the developers, or comes from central government grants.

Some of the upcoming road works include the A382 widening Whitehill Cross to Drumbridges. This will be a 10 metre wide carriageway with a 3m wide shared cycle/pedestrian path adjacent to it. It has planning permission and work on the Whitehill Cross to Forches Cross section has begun. Ringslade Road will be closed from the end of March for several weeks, to carry out related drainage works. The planning application for the Jetty Marsh Link Road to the hospital is expected this Summer. The planning application for the A382/A383 Link Road has been submitted by DCC and can be viewed on TDC’s webpage, comments are welcomed until May 24th. A new Toucan Crossing near West Golds Roundabout is programmed, to replace the inadequate island crossing point.

Road works are inconvenient and frustrating but perhaps less so if you know when they are happening and we can adjust our lives accordingly. Fortunately, there is a very good service provided by roadworks.org which can keep you up to date with any road works. You register online with the service for free, and define the area for which you would like notifications and then you will receive an email every day telling you of all programmed road works. It is very useful, and takes away at least part of the frustration of coming across unexpected delays on the roads. Ultimately, I hope we can reach a point where we as a town, can take a breath and put the temporary traffic lights back in storage, but that will only happen if we can put a brake on the pace at which housing development is happening, and that brings us back full circle to the questioning of the need for the level of housing development, in the first place! Another article for another day.

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