Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Traffic nightmare coming to St James's Street

Do you ever get the feeling our city is mired in a permanent traffic jam of roadworks?

Probably. Members of Brighton and Hove City Council's Environment Scrutiny Committee yesterday learned that roads in Brighton and Hove have been dug up on about 20,000 separate occasions in the last year.

The council itself carried out about 9,000 roadworks, and about 8,500 were done by the utility companies. Oh and then there's Southern Water's main replacement project - which has, additionally, seen roads closed and traffic brought to a standstill while the firm has upgraded miore than 50 km of pipes.

A traffic engineer told members they were doing everything they can to get the privately-owned utilities to work together - cutting costs, disruption to residents and traders, and delays to all road users.

He gave one example of how they were able to persuade two utility firms to co-operate on works at North Road, cutting the length of time the road was dug up by about nine months.

But usually, we were told, that doesn't happen. The companies involved don't like it much - and they're under no legal obligation to play ball with each other.

Well, personally, I don't think that's good enough. The law of the land allows the water, gas, electricity and cable companies to dig up the roads, essentially whenever they like.

I think it should also require them to plan their work and do it all at once: if they really can't get their acts together they should face heavy fines - used to compensate residents and road users - or compulsory nationalisation, to bring them into public ownership and control.

Meanwhile, the never-ending road works look set to continue.

And if you live, work, shop - or just hang out - anywhere near St James's Street it's about to get a whole lot worse.

Southern Gas Networks have announced plans to 'relay a section of the Gas main and associated services' in St James's Street (whatever that means exactly), next February.

The St James's Area LAT will discuss the plans with the Southern Gas manager responsible at its next meeting, which takes place tomorrow from 7pm at Dorset Gardens Methodist Church.

It'll be interesting to see how we all manage during any protracted closures of the street: I guess the buses will have to be diverted along the seafront and Edward Street, giving us an instant experiment (whether we like it or not) in giving pedestrians priority for a while.

1 comment:

  1. We have to come and accept that Brighton is forever going to be a nightmare to drive and park in. If only a biking system was introduced to encourage the two-wheeled form of transport - as is such a success in French cities.