SWH makes road closures work for the community
In May 2012 the Highways Agency, now called Highways England, allowed its first ever daytime closure for routine maintenance on a national trunk road – an innovative idea piloted by SWH Group. SWH operates the A30/A35 in joint venture with Balfour Beatty and is responsible for maintenance activities.
We suggested closing 8.5 miles of the A35 for a full 36 hour period to complete all necessary work in one go, negating the need for several partial closures staggered over the year. We put the proposition to the HA for the following reasons:
- This way of working creates a much safer environment for our operatives to work in
- This ‘block’ method ensures less nightly closures. Major activities, such as surfacing, would have otherwise closed sections of the road for six nights
- Carrying out all activities independently would take 12 months, meaning several road closures and traffic management processes spread over the period
- Considerably less disruption over the year for road users
- By closing the road, the number of live carriageway crossings would be reduced by 85%
The 36 hour closure was a complete success, thanks to thorough planning and effective communication with numerous organisations, including Devon, Somerset and Dorset County Councils with whom we worked closely. The work was completed within the specified time frame as planned.
Local residents were also kept informed well in advance and many took the opportunity to undertake work to their properties at the same time, such as painting fences by the roadside and jet-washing garden walls. In many cases, these works would not have been safe whilst the road was open.
Before any work began, the section of the road was closed and two diversion routes were created. Another innovative aspect of the scheme was the placement of ‘Hardstops’ around the closures, enabling local people to travel on short distances of the closure before carrying on with their journey. Each Hardstop was manned by an operative called a Gatesman who is on hand to assist and advise drivers as required.
Maintenance works carried out during the closure included:
- Surface treatment works
- Landscape maintenance
- Road marking
- Drainage works
- Sign repairs and cleaning
- Road cleaning