Slack Sabbath? Baffled by the lack of hi-vis heroes sent out on a Sunday
PUBLISHED: 17:19 27 December 2018 | UPDATED: 17:19 27 December 2018
We've all crawled past a long line of cones on the motorway only to find no actual work going on. It's driving David Clayton, for one, mad
I’ve been on my travels again. This time – and I hope you’re impressed – I drove to Truro in Cornwall. It was on a Sunday and I used most of the daylight hours to get there. But here’s the thing – the previous day I’d driven to Birmingham and back. Given that journey requires traversing the notorious “Trans-Anglia Highway” or A14 as its better known, it’s not to be sniffed at. At this point, if you drive for your living, I do accept you’ll be saying, “So flippin’ what?”
But it got me thinking. On the route to the Midlands I drove past the inevitable roadworks which reduced some fine dual carriageways and motorways by a lane or two, imposing a speed limit for safety and then often for mile upon mile. When travelling at weekends, I’m used to seeing little or no activity behind the barriers, but was impressed to see lots of hi-vis-jacketed people hard at it, particularly on the M6 roadworks. In my experience, it’s a rare sight of a weekend. Had I not been gripping the steering wheel, I’d have given them an enthusiastic thumbs up.
I was quite excited as I set out on my Sunday journey. I enjoy a long drive. These days I’m on at least a dual carriageway barely two miles from my front door, right through to five miles out of Truro. I encountered the usual spate of roadworks none of which, if I’m honest, delayed me much at all, but in contrast to the Saturday, there was absolutely nothing going on behind the cones and barriers. I find this puzzling because surely the contractors might as well just get on with it. These days, with shift working, they could cut the length of disruption by working across seven days, couldn’t they? Thankfully few of us around here have to endure a commute along the M4, but I know from my occasional midweek encounters with that motorway it can be at a standstill while heavy traffic copes with roadwork lane restrictions.
So why not use every possible moment to get on with the necessary work?
Having just tried to book a rail ticket for a Sunday at the end of January, I’m already stuck with the prospect of going via Cambridge because of the dreaded “bus replacement.” Railtrack are hard at it somewhere between Norwich and London. When aren’t they? All vital work on our railways, no doubt, but If it works to use a Sunday to minimise the disruption for the trains how come it doesn’t apply to our roads? Surely, it’s the same thing. There’s usually less traffic on a Sunday and fewer big lorries, so why not take the chance to just get on with the work.
Yes, it would be lovely for all of us to shut down collectively for one day a week, and traditionally that was Sunday – but I’ve spent most of my life working on Sundays or part of a Sunday. As I journeyed south to Cornwall, I was passing delivery lorries, coaches and trains – all with working drivers. I pulled up at three lots of motorway services with busy staff keeping us all fed and watered. When I got to my destination, the hotel had plenty of staff serving Sunday customers. And the reason for my journey to the south-west? BBC Radio Cornwall, where there was a full day’s broadcasting under way.
There’s obviously a complex calculation, and I’m not clever enough to do it, which balances the cost of traveller’s time wasted, against the funding of a seventh day getting on with roadworks.
Pretty much everything we consume travels on a lorry, so keep the main arteries of our country fully open as much as possible. If that means working across the full week and even floodlit around the clock, let’s just do it.