Herts County Council Highways Update on the COVID 19 Impact from Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst.

roadworksI am grateful for the following bulletin from my colleague, County Councillor Stephen Giles-Medhurst, Leader of the Lib Dem group on Herts County Council.
HCC Highways are continuing to monitor and adapt to the current situation and are keeping the highway safe and operational while working to government safe working guidelines, including those relating to construction works.
This essential work enables emergency services to get around the county, food to be delivered and key and essential workers to get to their places of work. A number of their staff have suffered abuse from the public in recent days so please be as supportive of them as possible.
If you have any issues over any works or want more information about this posting, please email on sgm@cix.co.uk or on nickholl1945@btinternet.com
CATEGORY 1 REPAIRS (Pot holes, trip hazards, street lighting outages etc.)
HCC Highways will try to work to normal intervention levels and repair timeframes during this period. However, given the impacts of covid-19, including the additional measures that they have put in place around social distancing to protect our workforce and residents, they may not achieve these timescales in all cases. Their focus will always be on attending to the most urgent matters first.
The social distancing measures mean it will not be possible to undertake all repairs as quickly as before and so you're likely to see more 'make safes' and temporary repairs going forward. Some the material suppliers are reviewing their operations and may stop work for a period of time. To help guard against this the county have a supply of temporary pothole repair material in all our depots;
SAFETY INSPECTIONS: HCC Highways will continue to carry out safety inspections to the required timeframe. However, these are now being undertaken by a driver only and recorded by camera for later assessment, which may increase the timescales for lower priority defects. For urgent defects the driver will stop when safe to do so and report these by phone.
WINTER GRITTING: Although HCC Highways will continue to grit the highway in accordance with the winter service operational plan, they have made some minor changes. Some sections of the precautionary network require a driver and co-driver. This is where parked cars or narrow roads means the gritter would have to reverse, requiring a co-driver to assist. Due to social distancing requirements it will no longer be possible to treat these difficult sections of road for the remainder of this season (runs to end of April). The website is being updated to reflect this.
CATEGORY 2 REPAIRS (minor maintenance work) HCC Highways plan to deliver these works where social distancing can be fully implemented and where the appropriate resources (material supplies, personnel and equipment) are available.
CATEGORY 5 WORK (cyclical maintenance such as gully cleaning and grass cutting):
Grass Cutting
HCC Highways only plan to undertake grass cutting of visibility splays and for the high speed road network. This is because we cannot ensure appropriate social distancing for the public and the workforce, they will not carry out any grass cutting (except for visibility splays) on our urban road network;
Gully cleaning
HCC Highways have temporarily stopped our annual gully cleaning programme whilst we put in place measures to allow the safe delivery of this service applying the guidelines on social distancing. However, we will deal with any flooding reports in accordance with our standard CAT 1 response.
Planned Scheme Works
HCC Highways are reviewing their programme ( ie full road or footway resurfacing) in the light of the changing situation. Most of these works will now be postponed. Local county councillors will be informed of changes.
One of the county's contractors, has decided to cease operations, from 1st April 2020 until further notice, to ensure the safety of their teams and members of the public. This will have a significant impact on the programmes of work and will affect all carriageway resurfacing/reconstruction schemes. The contractors had been scheduled to deliver 220 schemes during 20/21, with more than half of these planned between April and September 20. Members are being updated on the schemes in their areas.
Where works which have already been communicated to councillors and customers as due to start (sign boards erected on site), have to be cancelled or postponed HCC Highways will update the boards on site, but will no longer send update letters to individual households. Information will be available on our website.
Additional information;
1. With the additional measures that have to be put in place that works will take longer than normal;
2. Utility Works: there will be a reduction in utility works because of Covid-19. Some customers are not allowing utilities to their property to undertake connections, and supplies of materials and resources are disrupted. As a consequence utility works will take longer to complete and traffic management will also be on the highway for longer. Streetworks inspectors are continuing to work during this period, monitoring utility works and dealing with any issues;
3. Developer works: some developers are reviewing their operations and may potentially be closing their sites for the short term. The development management team will continue checking sites to ensure the safety of those using the highway;
4. For up to date information on roadworks please refer to the HCC website;
HCC Highways will continue to work with our partners to ensure these new and recent guidelines are being followed including crews working on defects will now travel in separate vehicles (unless they are close family members living in the same household). Whilst the county are still aiming to deliver to target repair times for customer reported defects, the focus will remain on the most urgent repairs during this time.
To see all roadworks and road closures. Further highways updates will be provided here <https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/about-the-council/news/coronavirus-service-updates.aspx>