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Motorways: Repairs and Maintenance

Volume 462: debated on Wednesday 4 July 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what co-ordination exists between different regions of the Highways Agency to ensure that motorway lane closures in one region are notified to adjoining areas served by the same motorway; and if she will make a statement. (147442)

For planned lane closures such as those required for maintenance activity and major improvements, the Agency has a Network Occupancy Management Process to ensure that roadwork activity is planned and coordinated effectively. As part of this process, the Agency records all this information on a national electronic system called the Schedule of Road Works. This national system is populated by its contractors and can be accessed by planning staff in all regions.

For unplanned lane closures such as those as a result of incidents, the Agency’s National Traffic Control Centre (NTCC) co-ordinates the strategic response and informs motorists of road closures and implements strategic diversions. The NTCC automatically alerts the corresponding Regional Control Centre (RCC) that it is about to set a specific response plan and also provides information to motorists through the Traffic England website, the Highways Agency Information Line and through travel news media.

Incidents are managed from the Agency’s seven RCCs. If the incident affects adjoining regions then the lead RCC will ensure they are notified and co-ordinate a joint response. Incidents of national significance are co-ordinated by a national crisis management team.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what advice she has given on the use of overhead gantry signs to ensure that motorists using a motorway in one Highways Agency area are warned of carriageway closures in other Highways Agency areas. (147443)

The Highways Agency (HA) have a wide variety of Variable Message Signs (VMS) and fixed message signs designed to give motorists advanced warning of any closures on the motorway network which could affect their journey. Where an incident occurs that necessitates the closure of a carriageway, the National Traffic Control Centre (NTCC) uses VMS located at key strategic points on the network, across HA areas and regions, to make motorists aware and allow them to make informed decisions about whether to change their route. It is important to note that the NTCC doesn't work on an HA regional or area basis, but sees the network as a whole.