Public Consulation: ECC proposes to push roadworks to night-time at 133 more Uttlesford streets

Essex County Council is proposing to ban daytime street closures for roadworks at an additional 133 locations in Uttlesford. Currently there are only 38 streets where they mandate this. This 350% increase will mean more night-time drilling and resurfacing outside homes.

If you are concerned about night-time roadworks outside your home, we suggest your send your comments to ECC. Information is provided at the bottom of this page on how to do that.

Is your street affected?

The proposals will affect main roads in nearly every community in the District. Through public consultation ECC is seeking to change the formal designation of a 133 streets to classify them as ‘traffic-sensitive’ because they are all gritting routes. By classifying the streets as traffic-sensitive, ECC will force all planned roadworks that close the roads to the night, as they did recently in Saffron Walden.

The ECC consultation document is quite poor, so we have extracted the list of the affected Uttlesford roads in this spreadsheet and prepared maps below for the major settlements.

Daytime roadworks bans will be forced on more roads in Saffron Walden

In early September ECC mandated night-time only road closings for the installation of new traffic lights at the junction of Borough Lane and Debden Rd in Saffron Walden. Furious residents and their children were kept awake by 2 consecutive nights of drilling during the school week.

Dan Starr, chair of WeAreResidents.org said “ECC told us that they had forced the night-time working because Borough Lane was a gritting route. But clearly someone was asleep at the wheel because it was early September and ECC’s gritters aren’t even on standby until the end of October… because there is no snow!”

Consultation Extended

Residents’ campaigning has forced the County Council to restart the Public Consultation.

Dan Starr continued “However as we dug deeper into the traffic light problems we found that ECC had snuck through a Public Consultation in the early summer to allow them to do the same outside 350% more Uttlesford homes, all on gritting routes. We wrote to ECC to request that they restart the Public Consultation because they failed to properly notify the public and the information relating to Uttlesford roads was missing. They have now fixed their documents and restarted the Consultation; it runs until the end of October 2014.”

ECC have stated that the only reason for pushing roadwork closings to night-time is because they are gritting routes. ECC propose to force the road closing all year in spite of the fact that their gritters are only on standby from the end of October to the beginning of April.

John Lodge, Essex County Councillor for Saffron Walden (Residents-for-Uttlesford) said “I am concerned that residents, town and parish councils have not been properly consulted and that these proposals, if accepted, could needlessly disrupt homeowners’ lives. I also believe that during the summer no roadworks should be forced to night-time because they are gritting routes.”

Great Dunmow will also be impacted

Keith Mackman, Uttlesford District Councillor for Dunmow South (Residents-for-Uttlesford), who said “Night-time roadworks are very disruptive in residential areas and should only be sanctioned as a last resort. In Dunmow, Essex County Council is proposing to more than double the roads where they ban daytime closures – many outside peoples’ homes. This seems like another case of a Council feeling that if can run roughshod over the views of residents. I urge residents to check if their street is on the list and respond to the ECC if they are concerned.”

Villages

Thaxted and the other villages in Uttlesford also face more night-time roadworks.

Respond to Public Consultation by 31st October

ECC’s Public Consultation runs until 31st October. If you are concerned, you can email your comments to ECC at nrswaessex@essexhighways.org. At a minimum we believe that there should be no banning of daytime roadwork closures within 50 metres of homes and certainly between April and October where gritting is the reason for the re-designation of the road.

WeAreResidents.org and Cllr John Lodge and the other Residents-for-Uttlesford councillors have written to ECC to detail their concerns. You can find out some of the reasons why below.

More information can be found on the ECC website Traffic Sensitive Streets Review page.

Arguments you may wish to use to oppose ECC’s proposals

The main reasons for opposing the resignation of streets include:

  • Night roadworks are a significant disturbance to nearby residents: In the proposals ECC has made no consideration of the needs of residents who live near the roads on which ECC wish to force road closing work to nights. ECC has an obligation to consider the impact of these proposed changes to those that live next to the roads, as well as those that use and work on them. Nearby residents need to be able to sleep properly so that they can work safely the next day or attend school. Because of the significant noise and vibration disturbance from roadworks, night works should not be allowed close to residents homes, particularly on working/school week nights.
  • The risks not fully considered: ECC has presented no evidence that the re-designation of each street has been considered on a case-by-case basis as required. Roadworks at night have been shown to be more risky to those that work on the roads; roads at night are statistically more dangerous to road users (fatality rate per mile of travel about three times as high as daytime hours); and it has been shown that sleep deprived people (e.g. residents near the roadworks) perform more badly at work and school and are at higher risk. Additionally ECC has not shown the risk analysis for traffic-sensitive designation based on gritting requirements in Uttlesford. Uttlesford is one of the warmest and driest districts in the county, only getting 12% of the UK average precipitation a year. Forcing night roadworks and its associated risks should be properly weighed by ECC against the risks of winter weather.
  • Failure to recognise gritting season: ECC propose to change the designation of these street solely on the basis that they are gritting routes. The ECC gritting/winter season is from the last week in October to the second week in April. Outside of this period ECC is not prepared to grit because snow and ice are not a considerable risk to road users. However ECC proposes to re-designated these streets as traffic-sensitive for the whole year. This will cause the ludicrous situation of night roadworks outside homes during the summer based on ECC’s desire to use non-existent gritters to keep non-existent snow off the road. Any designation based on gritting route should only make the route traffic-sensitive during the period when ECC is prepared to grit, i.e. October to April.
  • A flawed assumption that roads only need to be open for gritters during the daylight only: ECC proposes to re-designate roads as traffic sensitive based on them being gritting-routes. This will have the effect of pushing planned road-closings to the night-time, allowing gritting trucks to keep the roads clear during the day. The rationale is clearly flawed. Snow doesn’t only fall during the day, it falls at night too. In fact snow is statistically more likely to fall at night because it is colder; and gritters actually need access to the roads overnight to clear them for the morning commute. The fact that a road is a gritting route should have no bearing on its designation as traffic-sensitive unless, on a case-by-case basis, there are other significant factors.

 

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Posted in Consultation, Essex County Council, Live, Local Government, News, Roads and Transport
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