A SOLUTION to Britain’s motorway delays nightmare is a long way off, according to Civil Engineering lecturer Saad Yousif.
Figures released earlier this year suggested that one in three British car journeys was delayed by repairs, and this week ministers called for the length of England’s major roads to be shortened.
According to one report, works would be limited to two miles at a time, with a maximum of five miles in extreme cases. The news would be welcomed by regular users of the M60 in particular, where roadworks stretch from J8 to J18.
But planning roadworks is already a difficult process, requiring a huge amount of logistics and investment. According to estimates, widening a 51-mile stretch of the M6 cost £1,000 per inch or over £60m per mile.
"If we are to minimise the amount of work required, we need to have better procedures," Saad Yousif, senior lecturer in transport studies at the University of Salford told the BBC. "You have to be co-ordinated.”
One way of doing this, he says, is the 50mph limit, currently used on motorways: “Research has suggested that the optimum speed limit around roadworks is about 50mph. “When this is enforced properly - for instance, using average speed cameras - this increases capacity by reducing the need for lane changes (which slow down traffic), causing less turbulence and reducing accidents.”
Another possible solution is night working. But while this does minimises disruption to drivers, it isn't always possible with certain tasks that require greater visibility, says Yousif. Noise can also be a problem when the site is close to a residential area.
"Sometimes contractors don't have the capacity for 24-hour shifts," he says. "It's good for the users but sometimes it's not possible especially as you are talking about specialist contractors, for instance those laying a safety barrier."