/ Motorways, I have a dream

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Michael Hood 08 May 2019

I have a dream, that sometime soon my daughter will be able to travel from London to Manchester and back again without going through any roadworks. That the length of her journey will be determined by the quality of her automobile and not by the number of restrictions on the M1 and M6.

I have a dream, that my Ilana (daughter) will be able to travel at the national speed limit on every motorway in the United Kingdom, that she will only be delayed by the density of the traffic and the disposition of her infants.

I have a dream, that when I travel on our great motorway network, I might actually see people working on the roadworks designed to improve all of our lives.

I have a dream...

Why are we so bad at fixing or "upgrading" our motorways. How can it reasonably take 3-4 years to deal with each section of road.

Why are we so crap at this in the UK?

1
teh_mark 08 May 2019
In reply to Michael Hood:

People don't like traffic - but also don't like the roadworks which are required in order to improve the capacity of our motorways to alleviate the traffic.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't...

1
ThunderCat 08 May 2019
In reply to Michael Hood:

Keep dreaming

I have a theory that there is a shortage of storage space for about 17 million traffic cones and the only place to keep them is out on the roads. 

They're a bit like travellers:  They set down at a space for an certain amount of time, lots of people get upset about them, then they move on to a different place elsewhere in the country.

It's a barely thought out theory I'll admit and the analogy ends there.

ianstevens 08 May 2019
In reply to teh_mark:

I think the point is that there is a substantial difference between road works (i.e. people working on the road) and the lines of cones, narrow lanes and reduced speed limits that cover the UK motorway network.

dunc56 08 May 2019
In reply to Michael Hood:

Don't take a Lllama on a motorway. It's that kind of irresponsible behaviour that leads to lower average speeds. 

john arran 08 May 2019
In reply to dunc56:

> Don't take a Lllama on a motorway.

Is that a Welsh buddhist leader?

Ridge 08 May 2019
In reply to john arran:

> Is that a Welsh buddhist leader?

Dai Lllama?

tlouth7 08 May 2019
In reply to Michael Hood:

I drove Rugby to Glasgow (and back) last summer and I am convinced that more than half of the M6 was 50mph at the time.

Of course if you want it really bad try the 40mph zones on the A14 (though at least there is often evidence of work ongoing).

marsbar 08 May 2019
In reply to Michael Hood:

London to Manchester?  Great, Alpaca a picnic.  We can go in the Llamaborgini.  No drama Llama.  

marsbar 08 May 2019
In reply to tlouth7:

Also known as the A14 of doom.  Well to me anyway.  

LastBoyScout 08 May 2019
In reply to ThunderCat:

> I have a theory that there is a shortage of storage space for about 17 million traffic cones and the only place to keep them is out on the roads. 

I'm sure I read somewhere that only something like 1/3 of them are in use at any one time, so where the heck are the other 30 million*???

* - I assume there are about 4 million scattered around student bedrooms, bottoms of rivers, etc.

mrphilipoldham 08 May 2019
In reply to tlouth7:

I had to drive from Mildenhall to Holyhead for a ferry last week, and it was advertised to be closed from 9pm.. I approached at 8.50pm, to find it already closed. Had to follow a terribly signposted diversion through Cambridge which added time and stress to what was already a long and stressful drive. Terrible.

Clint86 08 May 2019
In reply to Michael Hood:

Yes. Reducing the amount of drivers would easily solve that. 

teh_mark 08 May 2019
In reply to ianstevens:

I'll take the 20 mile long 3 narrow lane permanent roadworks any day of the week over the ad-hoc lane closures that seem to appear in random and unpredictable places overnight.

You honestly can't expect workers to invent an entirely new running lane, erect gantries and install infrastructure with small temporary roadworks?

deepsoup 08 May 2019
In reply to Michael Hood:

Up this way the newly upgraded bit of the M1 has been up and running for a while and it's clear that they've made a terrible mistake. 

They've added a fourth lane on the inside so nobody wants to drive in it.  (Because -dur- it's the extra slow lane.)  Also it's very confusing for the middle lane drivers, because it's unclear now which of the two middle lanes they should stick to.  Should have moved the existing lanes over and put the new fourth lane on the outside.  (Where it would have been the extra fast lane, woo!)

ThunderCat 08 May 2019
In reply to deepsoup:

I've found this on the smart bit of the M62 quite often. The 'use hard shoulder' signs come on, but the majority of people seem to ignore it. So you go into it, and then you're faced with a totally clear lane in front of you but three lanes to your right full of slowish moving traffic... And the thought 'I know shouldn't undertake, however...' pops into your head... 

Dax H 08 May 2019
In reply to Clint86:

> Yes. Reducing the amount of drivers would easily solve that. 

I don't think it would. In a few months time I will have been driving for 30 years, average 30k per year and I have never once gone on the M62 between Leeds and Manchester without at least 1 set of roadworks. 30 years ago the roads were far quieter than they are today. 

Post edited at 17:40
gravy 08 May 2019

I have a dream that my daughter will be able to traverse the length and breadth of the country on fast, low carbon, trains and buses at a reasonable cost (below the equivalent car journey).

It may have to wait for driverless cars though...

1
Dax H 08 May 2019
In reply to Michael Hood:

> Why are we so bad at fixing or "upgrading" our motorways. How can it reasonably take 3-4 years to deal with each section of road.

> Why are we so crap at this in the UK?

Because everything goes out to tender and is appointed to the cheapest contractor (on paper) to carry out the work. Unfortunately things like safety means any civil works will take a long time, we are no longer allowed to kill or maim the workers. 

Don't forget after the 3 yo 4 years to upgrade 20 miles then you have a further year or so a year later when the contractors come back to fix all the problems that developed in the first 12 months of use. 

GrahamD 08 May 2019
In reply to Michael Hood:

HS2 and HS3 should be just the ticket 

john arran 08 May 2019
In reply to deepsoup:

They should repaint all motorway lane markings so that, at regular intervals of maybe 3 miles or so, the left lane disappears and traffic in that lane merges with than in lane 2, whereupon a new lane appears on the right of the outside lane.

deepsoup 08 May 2019
In reply to john arran:

Ha.  That would be hilarious!
(Though admittedly with a slightly higher death toll than we usually consider to be funny.)

Let's do it.

McHeath 08 May 2019
In reply to marsbar:

> London to Manchester?  Great, Alpaca a picnic.  We can go in the Llamaborgini.  No drama Llama.  

I'm packing for the same trip; going climbing but my rucksack's already so full that not one camel fit in.

Thrudge 08 May 2019
In reply to marsbar:

> London to Manchester?  Great, Alpaca a picnic.  We can go in the Llamaborgini.  No drama Llama.  

<applause>  :-D

Thrudge 08 May 2019
In reply to Michael Hood:

> I have a dream, that when I travel on our great motorway network, I might actually see people working on the roadworks designed to improve all of our lives.

I don't know why this happens, but it is a very common sight.  Vehicles and equipment standing around, no workers in sight.  This can go on for months at a time.  There's no one working on it in the morning, no one working on it in the middle of the day, no one working on it at night.  

Best guess - it's a scam run by the builders.  Drag the job out, pay off local and/or national government officials, rake in the cash.  For months and months, sometimes years.

The Japanese have an earthquake and replace an entire stretch of motorway in weeks.  We need 3 years to add one lane.  Or, in the case of the A500, about a year to do nothing at all.  Come the revolution....

2
Cheese Monkey 08 May 2019
In reply to Michael Hood:

They want to take a leaf out the railway engineering book. Massive infrastructure improvements delivered in a weekend. Stage works that have no impact on normal operation. I’m not saying it works all of the time, but it’s a lot better than HEs approach of putting some speed cameras in for 3 years and maybe once a week you’ll see someone thinking about picking up a shovel   

Clint86 09 May 2019
In reply to Dax H:

There are more roads and more cars. So if we went back to traffic levels of 30 years ago they would be quieter, less hold ups. I never get held up by traffic as I don't own a car. If you were able to reduce your mileage by 2/3rds, you'd be held up a lot less. Bloke on the radio spoke real sense this morning. We've got to change our habits, no excuses....before we don't have any choice. Kevin Anderson, 7.16, radio 4.

dh73 09 May 2019
In reply to Cheese Monkey:

we need to get the Victorian navvies back. they would get the job done and wouldn't need cones to protect them. half of them may die from careless use of dynamite or a pickaxe fight, and the other half would molest your daughters when they were sober enough to stand, but at least the road would get built in double quick time and to a high standard

SDM 09 May 2019
In reply to Cheese Monkey:

> They want to take a leaf out the railway engineering book. Massive infrastructure improvements delivered in a weekend. Stage works that have no impact on normal operation. I’m not saying it works all of the time, but it’s a lot better than HEs approach of putting some speed cameras in for 3 years and maybe once a week you’ll see someone thinking about picking up a shovel   

My commute to work along the A45 is currently in the middle of 3 and a half years of delays because of work by Network Rail on the railway that crosses underneath. 

I would use the alternative route to avoid any delays except the only viable alternative also crosses the same railway line and therefore has the same problem but, being a single carriageway, the delays are worse. 

These days there is at least decent levels of activity. That was not always the case; the speed limit was reduced and the cones were put in place a full 18 months before the ground was broken.

Michael Hood 09 May 2019
In reply to all:

This is how I think motorway work should be done...

1. Contract price is based on how long the work takes; i.e. take longer - penalties, do it quicker - bonus. Obviously work has to be of ok standard but basically we the public should pay more to ensure less disruption.

2. Contract price should be such that 24x7 working is strongly encouraged, to the point where anything but 24x7 working would be daft. This is an extension of 1 above. Again, we pay to not have the work f**k up our lives so much.

3. Instead of working on 20 mile stretches over years, only short stretches can be worked on at one time. Maybe 2-3 miles. Move that 2-3 mile stretch along as it gets completed. Almost like a rolling production line.

4. Extension of 3 might be to only work on 2 or 3 places in the whole of the UK motorways at any one time. Concentrate all the workforce on a small section and get it done fast, then move to the next section, etc.

Overall work may take the same time, but the different work patterns would cause far less disruption. Something that must be worth paying for, and no doubt the extra cost would effectively be recouped by the reduced (hidden) disruption costs.

Dax H 09 May 2019
In reply to Clint86:

I agree 100% that we all need to reduce our dependence on transport. Their are all kinds of technologies that allow virtual meetings and I use them where I can. 

But and there is always a but. My main day to day job is helping the water flow from the taps in Yorkshire and the waste water get treated rather than polluting the rivers. This involves me traveling from site to site with a van full of tools fixing and maintaining things. This is not something that can be done in the virtual world. I do it as efficiently as possible, last Friday for example I did the maintenance on 12 machines over 5 different sites around the Pocklington area of York and today I was on 3 different sites around Masham. I do an average of 1070 preventative maintenance jobs per year plus 24/7 cover for breakdowns. 

Can you suggest a way to do this and reduce the traveling? 

spenser 09 May 2019
In reply to Michael Hood:

This, this, THIS! I work as a certification engineer for on track plant and machines, Network Rail spend some serious dosh on buying machines to increase the rate of work in a safe fashion. Contractors lose obscene amounts of money if they overrun so they also buy lots of machines.

They are clearly capable of doing it as demonstrated by the work on the A38 North of Derby, one can only assume that the engineers at Highways England are utterly witless!

petwes 09 May 2019
In reply to Michael Hood:

The golden triangle of projects:

  • Cheap
  • Quick
  • Top Quality

...pick two.

Michael Hood 09 May 2019
In reply to petwes:

That's missing the point. Overall cost would probably be more, overall time could be the same, quality the same.

The point is to concentrate resources (and disruption) at any one time to a small length of network rather than having loads of long roadworks all over the place with nothing going on.

Basically a completely different work strategy.

If I asked a good highways contractor (I've no idea who that might be) how quickly a one mile stretch of motorway could be widened/smartefied (yeh right) if resources were no problem then I'm sure the answer would be less than 3 months and nowhere like over 3 years. 

12 times 3 months is 3 years, so that's the same 12 mile stretch done but with disruption limited to one mile all the time.

Surely this shouldn't be beyond the wit of man, although it's obviously beyond the highways agency

Dax H 09 May 2019
In reply to petwes:

> The golden triangle of projects:

> Cheap

> Quick

> Top Quality

> ...pick two.

I would be happy with 1. Civil projects like roads always run over budget, they always take forever and a day to finish, they almost always need remedial repairs after the first year. 

Michael Hood 09 May 2019
In reply to john arran:

I really like your "lose the slow lane of 4" every few miles idea.


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