Having spent some time in America this past couple of weeks, one thing that I was able to look into was roadworks, as this is somewhat topical around Howdenshire at the moment, and whilst driving in Alabama and Mississippi took the opportunity to investigate further as to how significant repairs and road construction are able to be carried out with seemingly minimum disruption to road users, and residents.
The first thing to notice was the lack of the 1,000’s of cones we see when roadworks are carried out locally, with the works are carried out at night when the roads are less busy, they appear to avoid peak traffic periods, and relatively short sections are started and completed before moving on to the next. There also seems to be fewer workmen and the road construction is somewhat simpler, without kerbs for the most part and constructed slightly higher than the verge to aid drainage.
The speed enforcement signage is also quite interesting, there are no fixed or variable speed cameras, to ‘trap the motorist’ along the whole section of the repair all of the time, instead there is a limit and double fines only when ‘workmen are in the road’ - not when they’re not, this is clearly signed and enforced by a combination of gun-toting State Troopers, Sheriffs and Local Enforcement Officers.
On talking to one of the construction teams working near the State border, they were a little surprised on seeing a ‘foreigner’ in those parts when I stopped to talk about roadworks, but quite amused when I described the way roads are repaired in England. It was clear that they looked at what could be done in a day (or night) and broke the whole job down into daily segments where they could plane the road surface, remove the scalpings and lay the new tarmac, before moving on to the next section the following day. The traffic is normally controlled by flags, stop/go boards and sometimes traffic lights, and diversions as a last resort.
Interestingly they described how the scalpings are recycled, remixed with tar and re-used as a base.
All in all a very different carry on to what we see in England, and some of their traffic management arrangements we could learn certainly learn from – BUT then there is that small issue of Health and Safety legislation which we would perhaps find difficult to get over.