Drivers in Shropshire continue to have their summer spirits dampened due to long delays from extensive roadworks across the county.
Shropshire Council is undertaking resurfacing works on 166 roads, bringing with it road closures and diversions.
Last month motorists were left queuing due to works south of West Felton, near the Shotatton Crossroads with queues stretching three miles each side of the temporary traffic lights.
In July works started on the A458 Bridgnorth bypass and on the A5 between Oswestry and Shrewsbury.
Steve Brown, Shropshire Council’s highways, transport and environmental maintenance manager said
“The Bridgnorth bypass scheme will see some important work carried out on one of the county’s most important roads, and road users will see big improvements once the work is complete. I hope most people will agree that this work is important and that the long-term benefits will far outweigh the short-term inconvenience. I thank them in advance for their patience and understanding while this work is carried out.”
Millions Spent on Vital Works
Resurfacing works started in June and are due to complete by mid-late August, with Shropshire County Council saying that surface dressing works now will prevent problems later on.
The council stated that resurfacing works is a vital part of highway maintenance which will improve the long-term condition of roads, helping to prevent problems in the future.
Shropshire Council spends around £9 million per year on resurfacing and dressing the county’s roads ranging from rural roads, main ‘A’ roads and town centre roads.
Highways maintenance service is delivered through five local (divisional) offices, two of these are in the north area in Hodnet and Whittington. The Hodnet office covers Whitchurch and Prees area. Larger countywide programs are delivered by the central team.
Steve Davenport, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for highways and transport told JT Hughes: “Shropshire Council continually invests in the maintenance of the county’s 5,000 kilometres of highways network.
“We understand that this network is vital in ensuring that travel for business, pleasure or social reasons can be undertaken effectively. Therefore, we have an ongoing programme of road resurfacing. We have laid new road surfaces every working day for the past 12 months, resulting in 108 carriageway resurfacing schemes completed which been delivered on time and to budget.
“The programme is set to continue, unbroken, until 5 September, resulting in an additional 14 schemes. The co-operation and good working relationships which has developed with our Term Maintenance Contractor and associated Sub-Contractors has been crucial to achieving this milestone.”
What is Surface Dressing?
Surface dressing involves spraying the road surface with a coating of hot liquid bitumen known as binder and coating it in stone chippings. The simple and cost-effective method forms a water-resistant, protective layer which improves skid resistance.
If you’re wondering why the works are being undertaken over the summer, it’s because weather needs to be warm and dry, as bitumen doesn’t stick to cold and wet surfaces.
There are a number of advantages to surface dressing including it protecting the road structure, restoring skid resistance, helping reduce spray and it lasting up to 10 years.
Anger from Shifnal Residents
Residents in Shifnal wrote to Shropshire County Council about the closure of Coppice Green Lane, expressing their dismay at being given just two days notice about the works going ahead. The road closed on 24th July and will remain closed for an estimated 8 weeks, beyond the school holidays and may well continue into October.
Shropshire County Council states that the scheme is to locally widen the road to enable two large vehicles to pass each other without having to ride up on the footway. This has become an issue due to the footpath being used by school children to Idsall School and the new housing estate further up the road.
There will be a total road closure and there are no properties along the road, so all residents will need to take the signed diverted route to access their properties.
Pedestrian access will remain in place and school buses will be shepherded through the closure, however, no other traffic will be permitted.
The letter, published in the Shropshire Star, states: “The residents of Aston Court Mews wish to formally complain about the proposed road closure of Coppice Green Lane from Aston Court Mews to Curriers Lane and the diversion route along Coppice Green Lane to Nanny Murphy’s Lane.”
“Residents received only two working days’ notice of the proposed road closure. We understand that the project was only signed off by the council on July 20 with the work due to commence on July 24. It must, therefore, be assumed that there has clearly been no time to thoroughly assess the suitability of the proposed diversion and undertake a risk assessment or, indeed, give serious consideration to other alternatives. If that is not the case, then there is absolutely no reason why we could not have been informed earlier.
“Residents wish to be assured that it is necessary to undertake as much work as is planned. Buses only meet each other between the south entrance to Idsall School and Curriers Lane. The road could be widened sufficiently in this section by simply removing the kerb on the east side of Coppice Green Lane which has never been completed as a pavement and is currently overgrown with weeds.
“It is less than a year since similar works were undertaken at great inconvenience to all residents.”
Steve Davenport, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for highways and transport told JT Hughes:
“Shropshire Council are aware of a number of issues relating to the works on Coppice Green Lane and the various concerns of local residents. The works are of an urgent nature due to pedestrian safety concerns and must, therefore, be carried out during the school summer holidays for the minimum impact to all. There have been many problems to overcome before a final decision could be made last week in order to expedite the works as soon as possible.
“The signed diversion route is the best alternative for minimum inconvenience during the works. It is appreciated that this is a rural lane that must be driven with caution with the increase in vehicular traffic. However, we are working with both our consultants and contractor to ensure the closure periods are kept to a minimum and will reopen the carriageway when possible. The total closure of the road is necessary to protect the workforce and provide adequate working space which could not be achieved using alternative traffic management. Access will be provided at all times for emergency vehicles on call.
“The removal of the hedgerow and wildlife is being carried out legally and with the appropriate licences in place and an alternative hedgerow is being planted within the school site to replace the one that will be lost.”
Trade in Ludlow ‘Lower than Normal’
Andy Boddington, Shropshire Councillor for Ludlow North spoke in his blog about the roadworks in Onibury, the 60-mile diversion and the impact on local business, and how lessons must be learnt.
The alternative diversion through Culmington, which is just two miles longer than the A49 was used by Highways England last year during resurfacing works. However, Shropshire Council ruled that traffic should not go through Culmington due to complaints received from residents after diversions through the village.
Following the reopening of the A49, Andy reflected on the impact of the road closure on Ludlow. While accepting that the works were very clearly necessary, he added that better management of such projects was needed.
“One lesson to be learnt is the same as we have learnt from almost every closure we have seen of late. There must be earlier consultation with local councils. Consultation on this closure only took place once the timing and most of the diversion arrangements had been agreed between government agencies and Shropshire Council. All that local councillors could do was to get the signage improved.”
He added: “The quality and safety of the Onibury crossing has been deteriorating for years. Network Rail could have repaired it at any time. Last winter would have been ideal. But the rail company failed to act, leading to an unprecedented closure and huge diversions at the peak of the tourist season.”
“It is high time that public bodies such as Highways England and Network Rail had a duty to consider the economic impact of their actions. They should also be told to consult before they finalise arrangements. The people that manage these organisations think that if you improve infrastructure, the economy will boom. But if you strangle local businesses during improvements, there will be not much of a local economy left to boost.”
Will You Be Affected?
If you would like to know whether your journey will be affected by roadworks, a full list of the resurfacing works can be accessed on the Shropshire County Council website and Telford and Wrekin Council website.
Work taking place at English Bridge Gyratory System commenced on 2nd August and will continue for three months.
There will be no 24-hour closures while work is carried out, instead, there will be isolated short-term closures on Old Potts Way (one way), Old Coleham and Old Abbey Foregate.
There will be full night time closure of the gyratory, including English Bridge, Abbey Foregate and the Coleman Head junction for resurfacing between 8 pm and 6 am for a two-week period in mid-end October.
Improvement works are underway on the A458 Bridgnorth bypass and the roundabout approaches between the A458/B4373 (Wenlock Road) junction and the Stourbridge roundabout. This is the first major maintenance work that has taken place since the road was built. Work will involve replacing and repairing infrastructure that has reached the end of its life.
Works will be carried out until November 2017.
A major route from south Telford through to Dawley and Telford Town Centre is going to be completely reconstructed during an 18-day roadworks programme.
Works will run from 7th August until 25th August on Castlefields Way from Castlefields Roundabout to just past Southall Road. The work will be completed in sections to ensure that access is retained for residents and businesses.
A full diversion will be in place around the site Southall Road – Brookside Avenue – Holmer Farm Road – A442 – A4168 to Castlefields Roundabout and vice versa.
Dom Proud, Telford & Wrekin Council’s service delivery manager for Highways, said: “This is essential maintenance that has been deliberately scheduled during the school summer holidays when roads are quieter.
“However, we do realise it will cause some disruption so we’d like to apologise in advance for any inconvenience.”
Other related articles:
Rise in ‘Crash for Cash’ Attempts Spark Warning for Shropshire Motorists
The 10 best driving roads in Shropshire.