A letter sent from Emma Ward, DfT’s Director General of Roads, Places and Environment, to highway authorities on 12th May set out a radical “local transport restart” agenda for getting the country back to work. This includes extensive changes to the road network to encourage shifts in use, including temporary closures and pop-up cycle lanes. It also recommends increased coordination for road works, engagement with all stakeholder organisations and effective real-time communications with transport users.
Coordination, communication and transparency will be the keys to enabling authorities to successfully adapt their road networks to meet the new demands. Towns and cities will need to be reconfigured with a wholesale reallocation of space to keep vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians separate. Implementing these changes will cause additional disruption just as reliance on our roads has never been greater. Additionally, pressure on road space will increase as we move into the recovery phase with utility companies and highway authorities striving to get their works programmes back on track.
The Joint Authorities Group (JAG(UK)) will extend its advice to incorporate best practice and Governance on how highway authorities can best implement changes to their road networks as well as adapting their planning and coordination process to ease pressures that come from fast changes to road networks.
Elgin’s one.network platform is a critical tool for many highway authorities for planning, coordinating and communicating works. In partnership with JAG(UK), Elgin will be making a number of urgent changes in response to the Government’s directive, to enable the new features that LAs are expected to introduce to our public realm to be communicated to stakeholders, providing a common operational view to ensure that activities as diverse as roadworks, newly embargoed pedestrian zones and even Covid testing facilities are visible to all. New datasets are being added to one.network to ensure that works coordinators can prevent clashes occurring on emergency and NHS logistics routes or disrupting access to chemists or food retail outlets.
The DfT, working with HAUC (UK) and the Highways Sector Council, has shared guidance with Local Authorities setting out a set of “Golden Covid-19 Rules”, providing a playbook for safe and effective street works and traffic management during these unprecedented times. The Highways Sector Council guidance advocates rigorous programming and planning, including publishing all works on one.network. It also requires authorities to send real-time road closure updates to sat-navs which can be accomplished using the one.network Live Link app.
JAG(UK) CEO David Capon commented “These are extraordinary times and the transport network is a critical element to helping the economy restart. The advice from the DfT will see a new set of pressures on highway authorities and JAG(UK) welcomes the opportunity to work in partnership with Elgin to help the sector rise to the challenge.”
Elgin CEO James Harris said “Elgin has long been at the centre of street works and we welcome the opportunity to support our customers through this period of urgent and systemic change. Working with JAG(UK), we believe we can deliver the critical toolkit to enable highway authorities to coordinate and communicate effectively to avoid gridlock while they adapt their road networks to address an unprecedented set of new challenges.”