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Pitmore Lane Closure - Diversion Issues

Full report here:  adobe icon 2018-05-14 Pitmore Lane Closure Report [1Mb]

For 2 weeks between Friday 13th April and Thursday 26th April, Southern Gas Networks were making emergency repairs to their gas main along Pitmore Lane between the cattle grid by Shirley Holms, and Horseshoe Cottage. For much of this time Pitmore Lane was closed. A diversion route was signposted during the middle of the afternoon of Day 4, however this had serious flaws and omissions. SGN insisted that the route and signage had been agreed with NFDC. Due to the lack of any available contact details at NFDC, we had to on several occasions involve District Councillor Barry Rickman in trying to get this resolved. Some of the issues were corrected around lunch time of Day 5, but others were not addressed until around lunchtime on Day 11. One serious signage issue was never resolved despite all attempts to chase up.

The consequence of all this was that over the entire 2 weeks, the tiny narrow single track lanes in the vicinity experienced over 5 times their normal amount of traffic (up to 18 times at peak periods), with drivers incapable of understanding that in order to negotiate these lanes safely, they have to be prepared to stop and reverse to the closest available passing place (generally residents' driveways). Instead they tried creating new passing places by destroying adjacent verges, and consequently some even ended up having to be towed or pushed out of deep mud and ditches. Residents and other regular users of the lanes were subjected to verbal and almost physical abuse by people who had no notion of how to drive in a considerate fashion at a safe speed in this environment. Vulnerable users (walkers, cyclists, horse riders etc) found themselves being driven at by impatient motorists while they were trying to reach the nearest place of refuge. When approaching walkers and horse riders from behind, some motorists appeared to even be trying to push them out of the way. It was only through sheer luck that nobody was seriously injured.

The purpose of this report is to try and ensure that, when Pitmore Lane next has to be closed, every effort is made to avoid such serious issues. SGN have already indicated that they intend to schedule works to replace the pipe they have just repaired, and that this is likely to last 2 months. We have a list of recommendations that we feel must be adhered to before such works are permitted to commence. These have been derived based upon experiences of local residents and other regular users of the lanes.

A comprehensive report detailing a number of the problems and issues experienced, along with a detailed analysis of traffic volumes can be seen here.  adobe icon 2018-05-14 Pitmore Lane Closure Report [1Mb]

Recommendations for the next time:

  1. Appoint one named individual to take ownership of any issues relating to the closure and its effects. Make sure that they can easily be contacted by all parties involved, including the local residents, and that they have the authority to get people to fix any problems without undue delay.

  2. Ensure the closure will not clash with any other works or events in the vicinity. If there is a clash, then liaise immediately to minimise the effects.

  3. Get all signage in place before work commences.

  4. Make sure all signage is complete. Each of our narrow lanes must have "unsuitable for diverted traffic" signs at both ends. Pitmore lane must have "Road Closed" signs at both ends and cones to discourage any but local traffic from entering. Mountpleasant Lane needs signage saying Pitmore Lane is closed. Sway Road by the Monkey House pub should also have signage and a diversion pointing up the A337 to the Setley road.

  5. Add signage saying "single track road with few passing places" at both ends of all the narrow lanes.

  6. Add more signage at B3055 junction warning of the low bridge along Shirley Holms.

  7. Make sure all signage is sensible. A "Diverted Traffic" sign pointing into the Pitmore Lane when that is actually closed is clearly nonsense.

  8. Only actually close the road during those times when it is absolutely necessary. At other times, keep the road open using traffic lights if necessary. At times when there is nobody working, there is no reason to prohibit all traffic flow. At those locations where the road is clearly wide enough for 2 vehicles to pass, there is no reason to prohibit all traffic flow. This has the potential of reducing traffic using the adjacent lanes by a further 40%.

  9. Protect verges along the narrow lanes by using cones or dragons teeth or other appropriate measures.

  10. Alert the bus companies and all those agencies involved in school transport (including the schools themselves). Ensure proper plans are in place for suitable alternative pickup and set down points which are communicated to parents.

  11. Make the police fully aware of the closure and request that they monitor the situation closely. Obtain and publicise some form of reference number that can be used by anyone reporting any incidents relating to the works so that any appropriate response will not be delayed.

  12. Implement a 20 mph speed limit along all the narrow lanes in the vicinity to further discourage their use as diversion route, and also to reduce potential for serious accidents. At the very least this should be by temporary traffic order, but ideally needs to become permanent.