ROAD REPAIR MANAGEMENT or lack there of......

August 4, 2021 1:35 PM
Originally published by Heather Kidd

Please see below Heather's submission to Shropshire Council's 'Place' Scrutiny Panel meeting today (4th August) at 1pm to discuss road repair management.
Her highly critical submission list a catalogue of failures.

Dear Joyce and Committee

I have many, many examples of very poor signage, communication and poor Road Traffic Management form companies contracted by Kier. These I have outlined in brief below. All of these are known to Officers.

I have picked a few of the reports section to give evidence, to comment on and ask questions.

6.33. Staffing - The highways team is working closely with Kier to improve every aspect of highway maintenance to ensure that the council provides excellent value for money and a customer focussed service.

This needs to include all companies subcontracted by Kier. Frequently those on road closure barriers have no idea of the area, no idea of the diversion and frankly give out false information. When the B4386 (a main route from Chirbury to the A5) was closed one couple trying to get to Worthen were told to turn around and travel all the way back to the A5 and then down the A488.

Here is just one of the many complaints I have received. This one was 30th June 2021. This year!

Bentlawnt resident: Today we set off for Yockleton church via Brockton where we encountered the first Road Ahead Closed sign. We drove through Worthen passing several more of the same signs but no diversion signs.

At the second turning to Aston Rogers a highways employee was turning people back. I explained we had to get to Yockleton and asked exactly where the works necessitating the road closure were. He claimed he hadn't been given that information! So we had to go back to Brockton, through to Minsterley and out to Lea Cross and across to the B4386.

Strangely there were no Road Ahead Closed signs going in that direction. Since people from Westbury who we were meeting at Yockleton had got through we still don't know where the road was closed.

It beggars belief that Keir position an employee on the road without giving him the knowledge to answer the obvious question that road-users would ask.

Surely the location of the actual works could be made available so that locals could take alternative routes much sooner?

Fortunately our delayed arrival did not create any huge inconvenience but two weeks ago a funeral service we were attending at Emstrey was held up for 15 minutes when the deceased's widow could not be collected from her home in Horsebridge due to Road Closure signs at both ends of the Horsebridge road. A very distressed elderly lady arrived to be rushed into the crematorium by an equally distressed vicar waiting to officiate at his first cremation since arriving in Pontesbury.

Whilst we all want the roads to be repaired the lack of consideration for locals while works are carried out is very unacceptable.

6.35. It has recently been acknowledged however, that some of this staffing is able to be recharged to capital budgets which will enable additional revenue to be released to increase the number of staff by a small amount to improve the current levels of engagement once the recharge process is implemented.

Inspection of the works carried out needs to be more robust and follow ups are required. The present staffing level is not high enough to allow this to happen.

An example is the use of the Roadmaster which seems to be being used on areas that frequently need more structural work. One section on a road from Chirbury to Priest Weston was really badly potholed but shallowly. The Road master was deployed about a year ago. He failed to finish but I happened to go through there and found him siting down at the junction. He was sent back by Highways to finish the road. Less than a year later the road is back to the condition it was in. potholes, rough and pitted.

  • Will this be fed into the system and roads such as this be made exempt from the Roadmaster??

6.39. Signing and Communications - The service has received several complaints about advance diversion signing not stating where the specific Place Overview Committee: Road closures and Diversions point of closure, to enable drivers to make more informed choices to avoid the works. In some instances, the signing can be some distance from the works site to enable diversions to be undertaken at appropriate points, particularly on A roads and so more informed knowledge of the closure could make a significant difference. 6.40. Kier are investigating the purchase of signing which can be easily customised to include the location of the closure which will help address this issue.

See answer above answer on staffing.

Signage does need serious work and I have suggested several times over considerable time that a rectangle on the closure sign in black board paint would allow the closure point to be written in. This seems to be taken forward.

  • It needs to happen urgently. Do we have a target date for this improved signage, please?

In areas such as Snailbeach and Stiperstones the Diversion in a road closure is 13 miles. When a driver diverts just to find they have to drive back again because the closure is then the wrong end and stopping them getting through. It causes real frustration, anger and waste usage of fuel - not a very environmental action.

If a carer does this their 15-20minute slot is lost and those needing care can be left in soiled pads etc. this has happened recently.

This would of course mean that those on the ground will need to know the area if they are to add the position of the closure'

  • How will the Council insure that those on barriers are properly briefed and knowledgeable?

Worst of all are the sudden closures with no Diversion in place. One such caused traffic from the B4386 to divert itself the only way possible through single track raods and through the hamlet of Aston Rogers. HGV's met one another, cars were stuck and the resident were delighted to see the first bus (558) they have ever had passing through the settlement!! This was chaos.

Simple advance communication with the local member and the Parish Council would mean that we could have waned many using the road. Sadly no-one knew. The advance notification could just be the day before. Crews know where they are going the following day so that should be possible.

We have had several occasions when the A488, the B4386 and the Bishops Castle to Shrewsbury road have been closed simultaneously or close to one another. The signage is put up in advance and drivers then have no idea which diversion is which.

  • Diversions need to be colour coded. The symbols are confusing if used at all. This is even worse when side roads are also closed. When will the Council be able to make sure diversions are separable?

Report Conclusions.

7.2. Road closures and diversions are an inevitable consequence of highway maintenance and reflective of the scale of work the service are currently undertaking.

Yes. But they need not be chaotic, unadvertised and poorly signed.

7.6. The service has identified ways in which road closure signing could be improved. This would involve identifying the specific location of the closure point. This would enable driver to make better decisions and prevent drivers 'chancing it' and arriving at the closure point, at which point are then forced to take less suitable roads at the last minute.

Even more important is that work need to be going on in a closure. It really agrivates local people when the closure is left in place, times and dates are wrong and there is no one on site.

One closure on the B4386 at Marton was recently signed with times and dates but would in fact have closed the diversion to a 6 month closure. That was chaotic. The people of Marton were very concerned.

  • We need mechanisms in place to make sure this cannot happen. What is proposed?

When a closure is 9.30am - 4pm it must be that. One permit for the A488 through Gravels said this. I advertised. The signs said 7am- 7pm. School transport etc was very , very concerned. Facebook , email and my phone were very busy.

  • How are we going to avoid this in future?

We also cannot have men on barriers deciding the 4pm closure will now be 5pm! That also happens and has happened to me.