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The Friday Blog | Traffic Management isn't just a few signs and cones

Russ Davidson | Commercial Manager | Beaumont Traffic Management

“It’s just a few signs and cones”

I have been in the Temporary Traffic Management (TTM) industry since January 1992 and if I had a penny for every contractor who had said this to me over the years, I would certainly have a few quid in the bank by now

Traffic Management (TM) was never just that unless you go back to the 1950s and ’60s where it was very basic as can be seen in the photos below. But this was mainly due to the fact there were far fewer vehicles on the road in those days, most of the road network was new, most bridges and interchanges were new and so the need for any complicated TTM was a far cry away

However, in more recent times, due to the ever-growing infrastructure, SMART motorways, multi-lane motorways, and very high vehicle usage in this country, TTM has evolved to become a specialist field all on its own.

Ask anybody my age (mid 50’s) who has been in this game for a long time, how they got into this line of work, and they will probably all tell you they arrived by default i.e., through working in the civil engineering or construction industry already.

But nowadays you can actually make this your chosen career path from a young age, by joining a TM company and getting on-the-job training and attend courses to become a qualified operative or foreman, etc.

Designing a temporary traffic management scheme is a complicated process that requires the involvement of a number of key stakeholders. Failure to plan can lead to delays in the project.

Chapter 8 and the Traffic Sign Regulations and General Directions (TSRGD) have both been revised (and expanded) several times since the early 1990s to cater to this ever-changing world. Interim Advice Notes have been issued by the dozen to deal with advances in technology and thinking and to improve safety not only for those on-site but for all road users.

Designing and installing a TTM scheme is a complicated process and can take weeks or months of planning with various drawings and meetings with key stakeholders such as local authorities and Highways England to decide on the final scheme.

Then starts the process of booking road space, applying for temporary traffic orders e.g., reduced speed limit, no right turn, contraflow running, road closures, etc. Some of these can take 3 months to get approved. In conjunction with this, TTM drawings need to be prepared in advance of this to supplement any liaison/application, and Business Information Modelling (BIM) may be required for the project.

Signs need to be made; cones may need to be ordered and specialist equipment such as safety camera vans may need to be arranged. Advance Information signs such as “Work Starts Here” need to be erected, usually 2 to 4 weeks prior to commencement. Risk Assessment and Method Statement (RAMS) need to be written and submitted and signed off by the customer; these are large documents that take many hours to produce. So, there is no doubt that failure to plan TTM can lead to big problems before you even start on site.

The days of it being “just a few signs and cones” are long gone. TTM is now an integral part of any highway scheme and should be at the forefront of any Project Manager’s mind when planning the works with their team otherwise, if ignored, it can lead to delays to the start of the project. And we all know “time is money”.

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