M5 Jnc 3 - 4 Road Works

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Duple
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M5 Jnc 3 - 4 Road Works

Post by Duple » Sun Aug 01, 2021 17:03

Can't seem to find much info (or posts) on what appears to be concrete barrier works that have the M5 down to 2 lanes both directions from Junc 3 - 4 both ways, they only thing I found is there is no lane drop warnings on the outside lane, so if there is a procession of HGVs (as there was on Saturday morning) everyone in lane 3 panics as the cones appear!

Is this new policy not to put signs in the reservation? Nothing on the matrix either to warn of a lane dropped, it caught a few out and lots of last minute waving off fists I noted! :?

The barrier did look quite poor so I see why they have done it, I don't remember noting the quite sizeable cracks before.. perhaps just surface but some are quite "rusty" which to me suggests this is effecting the rebar inside ?

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Re: M5 Jnc 3 - 4 Road Works

Post by Bryn666 » Sun Aug 01, 2021 17:13

Single banking of signs is designed to prevent the need for workers to put signs out in the outside lane.

It doesn't really work if you can't see the signs on the left.
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Re: M5 Jnc 3 - 4 Road Works

Post by SouthWest Philip » Sun Aug 01, 2021 17:14

Duple wrote:
Sun Aug 01, 2021 17:03
Can't seem to find much info (or posts) on what appears to be concrete barrier works that have the M5 down to 2 lanes both directions from Junc 3 - 4 both ways, they only thing I found is there is no lane drop warnings on the outside lane, so if there is a procession of HGVs (as there was on Saturday morning) everyone in lane 3 panics as the cones appear!

Is this new policy not to put signs in the reservation? Nothing on the matrix either to warn of a lane dropped, it caught a few out and lots of last minute waving off fists I noted! :?
Yes, apparently just signing lane closures on one side is now current policy. I would agree it's hardly ideal, bordering on downright dangerous when the signs are obscured by processions of lorries.

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Re: M5 Jnc 3 - 4 Road Works

Post by Phil » Sun Aug 01, 2021 17:27

Bryn666 wrote:
Sun Aug 01, 2021 17:13
Single banking of signs is designed to prevent the need for workers to put signs out in the outside lane.

It doesn't really work if you can't see the signs on the left.
In which case Matrix signs (which are not cheap to install and maintain) should be used instead.

Its the height of stupidity to provide them, but not then use them! Its almost as if HE treats them as their personal asset which contractors must never have access to.

Silo thinking at its worst - and a perfect demonstration of what can go wrong when organisations are obsessed with outsourcing....

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Re: M5 Jnc 3 - 4 Road Works

Post by Bryn666 » Sun Aug 01, 2021 17:29

Phil wrote:
Sun Aug 01, 2021 17:27
Bryn666 wrote:
Sun Aug 01, 2021 17:13
Single banking of signs is designed to prevent the need for workers to put signs out in the outside lane.

It doesn't really work if you can't see the signs on the left.
In which case Matrix signs (which are not cheap to install and maintain) should be used instead.

Its the height of stupidity to provide them, but not then use them! Its almost as if HE treats them as their personal asset which contractors must never have access to.

Silo thinking at its worst - and a perfect demonstration of what can go wrong when organisations are obsessed with outsourcing....
All these folding and remote controlled signs were just HE showing off their innovative skillz along with green cones and purple lights.

They were never intended to actually benefit road users.
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Duple
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Re: M5 Jnc 3 - 4 Road Works

Post by Duple » Sun Aug 01, 2021 18:37

SouthWest Philip wrote:
Sun Aug 01, 2021 17:14
Duple wrote:
Sun Aug 01, 2021 17:03
Can't seem to find much info (or posts) on what appears to be concrete barrier works that have the M5 down to 2 lanes both directions from Junc 3 - 4 both ways, they only thing I found is there is no lane drop warnings on the outside lane, so if there is a procession of HGVs (as there was on Saturday morning) everyone in lane 3 panics as the cones appear!

Is this new policy not to put signs in the reservation? Nothing on the matrix either to warn of a lane dropped, it caught a few out and lots of last minute waving off fists I noted! :?
Yes, apparently just signing lane closures on one side is now current policy. I would agree it's hardly ideal, bordering on downright dangerous when the signs are obscured by processions of lorries.
It confuses me that they've gone to the effort of laying cones in lane 3 (which I assume will have used an IPV) they could have used it 800 yards back to lay a couple of extra signs.. or is that far too logical? Even a matrix saying "M5 Jnc 3-4 lane closure" would have been sufficient a few miles ahead each way..

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Re: M5 Jnc 3 - 4 Road Works

Post by Conekicker » Sun Aug 01, 2021 18:53

SouthWest Philip wrote:
Sun Aug 01, 2021 17:14
Duple wrote:
Sun Aug 01, 2021 17:03
Can't seem to find much info (or posts) on what appears to be concrete barrier works that have the M5 down to 2 lanes both directions from Junc 3 - 4 both ways, they only thing I found is there is no lane drop warnings on the outside lane, so if there is a procession of HGVs (as there was on Saturday morning) everyone in lane 3 panics as the cones appear!

Is this new policy not to put signs in the reservation? Nothing on the matrix either to warn of a lane dropped, it caught a few out and lots of last minute waving off fists I noted! :?
Yes, apparently just signing lane closures on one side is now current policy. I would agree it's hardly ideal, bordering on downright dangerous when the signs are obscured by processions of lorries.
Unless something has changed, (and I'm pretty sure it hasn't), omission of offside signs is permitted ONLY for Relaxation works, subject to a site specific risk assessment. Said risk assessment NOT being a generic one that has simply had the site location added to it. Which no contractor would ever do...

...moving swiftly along...

If the works are Standard, then offside signs are required, unless they can't physically be fitted in, typically in a very narrow central reserve. That should be a very rare occurrence though.

As for using the matrix signs, they are intended for emergency use. If they were to display wickets and then something happened that required them to display a different message, you'd lose advance warning of the closure ahead. Not that such a loss seems to figure in the thinking of the HE SM Team, who think that ROTTMS are not needed and we can rely on the very few matrix that are provided on SM schemes. They've been told they are wrong but seem determined to remove or no longer provide ROTTMS. BAD move if they do.
Patience is not a virtue - it's a concept invented by the dozy beggars who are unable to think quickly enough.

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Re: M5 Jnc 3 - 4 Road Works

Post by Phil » Sun Aug 01, 2021 20:29

Conekicker wrote:
Sun Aug 01, 2021 18:53

As for using the matrix signs, they are intended for emergency use. If they were to display wickets and then something happened that required them to display a different message, you'd lose advance warning of the closure ahead. Not that such a loss seems to figure in the thinking of the HE SM Team, who think that ROTTMS are not needed and we can rely on the very few matrix that are provided on SM schemes. They've been told they are wrong but seem determined to remove or no longer provide ROTTMS. BAD move if they do.
That sounds like typical British bureaucracy and narrow minded thinking.

Just consider what you have written. Its a bit like saying we won't have the fire brigade attend rescues because they might be needed to deal with a fire that comes in, or the Police attend a RTA because a knife attack may occur.

Matrix signals are there to aid the driver, not to give control rooms an enhanced sense of superiority. They also do not absolve drivers from paying attention to the road ahead with most being advisory only.

Look at it this way - pretty much every VMS image is basically telling drivers to slow down because something unusual is going on ahead, that in itself gives more time for drivers to react to a lane closure appearing over the horizon.

Replacing a wicket gate image with something else is not going to materially increase the risk. A driver is not going to plough into the cones just because a matrix showed "50" rather than a wicket gate are they.

Lets work through some examples -

lets say the nearside lane has to be closed as well due to debris - solution amend the wicket gate accordingly
lets say there is reports of a horse lose and a reduced speed limit is needed - solution show the speed limit because a slower limit will give drivers more time to react when they see the taper coming over the horizon.
lets say there is fog about - well in fog you should drive more slowly so should have more time to react.

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Re: M5 Jnc 3 - 4 Road Works

Post by Conekicker » Sun Aug 01, 2021 22:07

Phil wrote:
Sun Aug 01, 2021 20:29
Conekicker wrote:
Sun Aug 01, 2021 18:53

As for using the matrix signs, they are intended for emergency use. If they were to display wickets and then something happened that required them to display a different message, you'd lose advance warning of the closure ahead. Not that such a loss seems to figure in the thinking of the HE SM Team, who think that ROTTMS are not needed and we can rely on the very few matrix that are provided on SM schemes. They've been told they are wrong but seem determined to remove or no longer provide ROTTMS. BAD move if they do.
That sounds like typical British bureaucracy and narrow minded thinking.

Just consider what you have written. Its a bit like saying we won't have the fire brigade attend rescues because they might be needed to deal with a fire that comes in, or the Police attend a RTA because a knife attack may occur.

Matrix signals are there to aid the driver, not to give control rooms an enhanced sense of superiority. They also do not absolve drivers from paying attention to the road ahead with most being advisory only.

Look at it this way - pretty much every VMS image is basically telling drivers to slow down because something unusual is going on ahead, that in itself gives more time for drivers to react to a lane closure appearing over the horizon.

Replacing a wicket gate image with something else is not going to materially increase the risk. A driver is not going to plough into the cones just because a matrix showed "50" rather than a wicket gate are they.

Lets work through some examples -

lets say the nearside lane has to be closed as well due to debris - solution amend the wicket gate accordingly
lets say there is reports of a horse lose and a reduced speed limit is needed - solution show the speed limit because a slower limit will give drivers more time to react when they see the taper coming over the horizon.
lets say there is fog about - well in fog you should drive more slowly so should have more time to react.
Removing the ROTTMS certainly is narrow minded. Alternatively you may be missing the point I'm trying to make regarding the use of the permanent matrix signs perhaps, which are not the same as ROTTMS.

If static wickets aren't present and you're relying on the very limited number of matrix signs that are present, that may be fine. In an ideal world.

Except you need to factor in the fact that if the lane closure is on for, say, 7 or 8 hours overnight and an incident happens within that time that would have greater impact on the wider network than the lane closure, there will understandably be a desire to inform drivers of the greater problem, which could be several miles away and possibly even on a different route altogether.

As you've only got a very limited number of matrix signs, by changing the wicket display to some worded message, there's a very real risk that drivers won't be adequately warned of the lane closure immediately ahead. Said lane closure having men in it on foot, who are highly vulnerable to an errant vehicle entering the works.

So which do you prioritise to sign? That's not a judgement call I'd like to make.

Driving slowly in fog. Of course you should, but too many don't and a sudden fog bank just in front of a taper with no advance warning is a recipe for soiling of underwear at best. At worst...

As for drivers not ploughing into the cones, you may be unaware of how often tapers, (with wickets in advance of them), are struck, as well as the longitudinal coning. So relying solely on a very small number of matrix signs on the immediate approach to the closure, which you cannot guarantee will display wickets for the duration of the closure, will materially increase the risk.

I worked in an industry that, sooner or later, whatever could go wrong would go wrong. Which is why it's such a risk averse industry, too much blood has been spilled for it to be otherwise. For example, this:

https://www.saferhighways.co.uk/post/no ... eid=UNIQID
Patience is not a virtue - it's a concept invented by the dozy beggars who are unable to think quickly enough.

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Re: M5 Jnc 3 - 4 Road Works

Post by darkcape » Sun Aug 01, 2021 22:36

With most tapers now going out from fixed, known 'safe-taper' locations it's a no-brainer to use ROTTMS. I wasn't aware their installation was being discontinued, but I think there's a lot of reliability issues with them (somehow).

It doesn't help that, AIUI, different Areas have different approaches to signalling works; some don't allow the use of signals at all & rely on TM signs, some will apply a speed restriction but no lane signals, some set signals whilst the TM goes out & then removes them once the TM is established, and some leave the signals set for the duration of the works. All this leads to differing expectations from motorists.

There's currently a 24hr lane 1 closure on the M69 which is double-banked, only MS1 signals on that stretch so drivers are reliant on the signs, compliance is pretty good.
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Re: M5 Jnc 3 - 4 Road Works

Post by Conekicker » Sun Aug 01, 2021 22:59

darkcape wrote:
Sun Aug 01, 2021 22:36
With most tapers now going out from fixed, known 'safe-taper' locations it's a no-brainer to use ROTTMS. I wasn't aware their installation was being discontinued, but I think there's a lot of reliability issues with them (somehow).

It doesn't help that, AIUI, different Areas have different approaches to signalling works; some don't allow the use of signals at all & rely on TM signs, some will apply a speed restriction but no lane signals, some set signals whilst the TM goes out & then removes them once the TM is established, and some leave the signals set for the duration of the works. All this leads to differing expectations from motorists.

There's currently a 24hr lane 1 closure on the M69 which is double-banked, only MS1 signals on that stretch so drivers are reliant on the signs, compliance is pretty good.
You expect HE Areas and RCCs to operate the same across the country?! What are you smoking?! :wink:

All tapers should be in safe locations. On SMs the tapers tend to be in fixed locations, sometimes with ROTTMS in front of them. The fixed locations are carefully chosen to enable closures not to be excessively long, whilst slotting the ROTTMS in amongst all the other verge kit that is present - it can be quite a difficult task to achieve.

Yes it's a no-brainer to use ROTTMS because they are both mains and battery powered, so in the event of a power-cut, the closure will still be signed. Remove the ROTTMS and rely on the permanent matrix and, apart from the small numbers of those signs present, you've got an immediate problem in that they are only mains powered, no backup. Not that that is stopping the SM team from trying to remove the batteries from ROTTMS, entirely on cost grounds. What's that saying about knowing the cost of everything and the value of nothing?
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Re: M5 Jnc 3 - 4 Road Works

Post by Chris5156 » Sun Aug 01, 2021 23:27

darkcape wrote:
Sun Aug 01, 2021 22:36
With most tapers now going out from fixed, known 'safe-taper' locations it's a no-brainer to use ROTTMS. I wasn't aware their installation was being discontinued, but I think there's a lot of reliability issues with them (somehow).
I've never yet seen a ROTTMS in use. There are ongoing overnight works on the M3 between J2 and J4 at the moment that cause closures of lanes 1 and 2, which is presumably using a known "safe taper" location each time it's set up. But to do it the contractor has put out a series of lane closure signs with rollerblinds to cover them when not in use. Each one is sited precisely next to a ROTTMS, which remains dark for the duration of the works.

My conclusion would be that, if they're never going to be switched on even when there's a lane closure in the exact location they were designed for, and instead conventional roadworks signs are going to be put out in their place, then yes, let's stop wasting money on the stupid things.

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Re: M5 Jnc 3 - 4 Road Works

Post by brummie_rob » Mon Aug 16, 2021 22:38

Lane closures are back until September, with a 40mph zone in place. God knows why when the last barrier repairs nearside had a 50mph limit. And why during the Summer when it's busy!

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Re: M5 Jnc 3 - 4 Road Works

Post by ais523 » Tue Aug 17, 2021 04:32

Chris5156 wrote:
Sun Aug 01, 2021 23:27
darkcape wrote:
Sun Aug 01, 2021 22:36
With most tapers now going out from fixed, known 'safe-taper' locations it's a no-brainer to use ROTTMS. I wasn't aware their installation was being discontinued, but I think there's a lot of reliability issues with them (somehow).
I've never yet seen a ROTTMS in use. There are ongoing overnight works on the M3 between J2 and J4 at the moment that cause closures of lanes 1 and 2, which is presumably using a known "safe taper" location each time it's set up. But to do it the contractor has put out a series of lane closure signs with rollerblinds to cover them when not in use. Each one is sited precisely next to a ROTTMS, which remains dark for the duration of the works.

My conclusion would be that, if they're never going to be switched on even when there's a lane closure in the exact location they were designed for, and instead conventional roadworks signs are going to be put out in their place, then yes, let's stop wasting money on the stupid things.
I've seen ROTTMS in use (once incorrectly, and a few times correctly). It does seem to be inconsistent whether those signs are used or not, though.

I've also seen tapers signed on a smart motorway's MS4s/AMIs, sometimes in combination with manually placed signs. (This often leads to a lot of trouble, either because the MS4 or AMI red-Xs a lane before it's actually closed, or because too many lanes are advisory-closed for too long causing vehicles to try to use the advisory-closed lanes to overtake/undertake the traffic in the lane that's going to remain open.)

This is the sort of situation for which it seems like it should be easy to design general rules, and for which it would be helpful for safety if those rules were followed, but I don't have high confidence in something like that actually happening in practice.

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Re: M5 Jnc 3 - 4 Road Works

Post by Chris5156 » Tue Aug 17, 2021 09:11

ais523 wrote:
Tue Aug 17, 2021 04:32
I've also seen tapers signed on a smart motorway's MS4s/AMIs, sometimes in combination with manually placed signs. (This often leads to a lot of trouble, either because the MS4 or AMI red-Xs a lane before it's actually closed, or because too many lanes are advisory-closed for too long causing vehicles to try to use the advisory-closed lanes to overtake/undertake the traffic in the lane that's going to remain open.)
I think that's quite usual now, certainly while the roadworks are still being set out and there are people in the road. I share your very mixed feelings about how useful it is to have two conflicting sets of instructions about whether a lane is open or closed. If you're going to reinforce the cones and signs by putting the lane closure on the VMS, then align the cones with the VMS so it all matches.

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Re: M5 Jnc 3 - 4 Road Works

Post by Bendo » Tue Aug 17, 2021 17:49

Ahh these modern low maintenance concrete barriers are great aren't they. Seems like only what 10 years if that since these ones were i lnstalled so whats going on.

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Re: M5 Jnc 3 - 4 Road Works

Post by Chris5156 » Tue Aug 17, 2021 17:56

Bendo wrote:
Tue Aug 17, 2021 17:49
Ahh these modern low maintenance concrete barriers are great aren't they. Seems like only what 10 years if that since these ones were i lnstalled so whats going on.
Highways England say it's for resurfacing as well as barrier maintenance. Low maintenance doesn't mean no maintenance, and if you're putting out cones and doing overnight closures for resurfacing works you might as well do any work that needs doing on the barriers while you're there.

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Re: M5 Jnc 3 - 4 Road Works

Post by Bendo » Tue Aug 17, 2021 18:16

Ah signage on the ground suggests it's just barrier repairs.

Such lengthy repair work does seem excessive to me for such a young barrier. Unless it's being driven into frequently such a basic structure shouldn't need any real works? What's it's going to need in 10 years time?

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Re: M5 Jnc 3 - 4 Road Works

Post by brummie_rob » Tue Aug 17, 2021 19:46

Chris5156 wrote:
Tue Aug 17, 2021 17:56
Bendo wrote:
Tue Aug 17, 2021 17:49
Ahh these modern low maintenance concrete barriers are great aren't they. Seems like only what 10 years if that since these ones were i lnstalled so whats going on.
Highways England say it's for resurfacing as well as barrier maintenance. Low maintenance doesn't mean no maintenance, and if you're putting out cones and doing overnight closures for resurfacing works you might as well do any work that needs doing on the barriers while you're there.
And summer was perfect timing considering the queues hit 30 mins during peak and on Mondays and Fridays at the moment.

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Re: M5 Jnc 3 - 4 Road Works

Post by SJobson » Wed Aug 18, 2021 14:31

I commute along this stretch now; it was interesting to see the lane drop with no reduction in speed limit for the first few days, then a 40 limit but the lane drop removed for another few days, before the 40 combined with lane drop finally appeared in (I think) the second week. Nothing seemed to be going on during the first couple of weeks; it looked like the restrictions were a knee jerk reaction to a sudden finding of issues.

Yesterday morning I had the opportunity to look at the repairs being done. The central barrier had a few metres of nice fresh concrete in three or four places; there were markings on quite a number of crumbling edges where there were joins or joints in the barrier so I guess they're scheduled for repair in the same way. It looks like a fair bit of work, I guess done overnight.

What I can't remember is exactly when this section of the M5 had its concrete barriers installed. Googling hasn't brought up the answer because there are too many results about the Somerset section being replaced. It does seem quite early to require substantial repairs which knock out such a chunk of capacity for a decent length of time. Just glad my commute is the opposite direction to the main queues.

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