The Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) has clarified the position of their highways key workers during the current Covid-19 lockdown.
Local authorities have a statutory duty to maintain the highways network in as safe a condition as is practically possible with the resources that they have available at all times. This is still vital work, keeping goods moving and deliveries flowing, for vital NHS and social care support workers, the emergency services, and all who are working to support communities in this unprecedented time.
Although local roads are seeing significantly less traffic than before the UK went into a lockdown scenario, it is still vitally important that the road network remains safe to use, after all, every journey begins and ends on a local road.
Key workers travelling on foot, by bike, on public transport or their own car to and from work will continue to rely upon roads and footways being repaired, and bridges that are safe to cross. Road gullies are being emptied to avoid unnecessary flooding and roadside grass is cut so they can see other traffic when leaving their properties, places of work and road junctions, says the association.
“Our highways workers are continuing to carry out that work: controlling the activities of public utilities (as they continue to maintain supplies to homes, hospitals and other places of work) and helping to keep disruption to the movement of goods to local shops and supermarkets to an absolute minimum,” it goes on to say.
Mark Stevens, Chair of ADEPT’s Engineering Board said: “We need the public to understand that our contractors are working for local authorities, to keep our roads safe. Everyone working in highway maintenance is performing a critical role for the nation. They are our ‘Highways Heroes’ and they need our support.”
“Highways depots and offices will remain open, winter gritting will continue, potholes will continue to be filled and other work on the highway network will continue, because it has to in order to keep the country going. We are hugely mindful of the welfare of employees and contractors, so we will be practising social distancing and ensuring that it happens in practice.”
Although the way in which each highway authority will fulfil its responsibility will vary depending upon the local circumstances, each will hold as close to ‘business as usual’ position as they can during these challenging times, said the association.