The M5 Roadworks – What Does It Mean for Lorry Drivers?
Any drivers who are in the Black Country area, or need to travel through the busy section of the M5, between junctions 1 and 2 near the Oldbury viaduct (close to where the M5 connects to the M6) will be facing long delays for what could be well over 18 months, with “essential” maintenance being carried out from April onwards.
The Oldbury viaduct requires a complete waterproofing and extensive repairs, with the last maintenance carried out on the viaduct dating back to mid-1987.
Works were originally quoted by Highways England at longer than 5 years, although they have now gone back on their original estimate claiming that it will take “significantly less time” than that. Traffic management during this period is still being “finalised and fine-tuned” and Highways England have claimed to be doing everything they can to minimise the disruption caused.
Slip roads could also be closed at any time during the work, but it has been noted that Highways England are “hopeful this would not be the case” for the entire period of the maintenance.
What Does It Mean for Us Truckers?
For traffic management, it appears that the current plan is to close alternate sides of the motorway while the works are going on, and change the open side to “narrow lanes” with speed limits of 30mph split across 2 lanes going in each direction, which of course is reduced from the normal 3.
The roadworks are in a vital location, and over 160,000 vehicles cross over the viaduct that the maintenance is planned for on a daily basis.
Delays for us truckers are inevitable, with these sorts of roadworks causing long queues which often affect the traffic miles away from the point of the where the roadworks actually begin.
If your regular route requires you crossing the M5 near Oldbury, we strongly advise that you plan far in advance to obtain an alternate method of getting through. Chances are that the roadworks will still come as a surprise to many road users, and the alternate routes you choose will need to be able to handle the weight of your truck and trailer.
These planned works are another unwelcomed addition to the traffic around the area, with junction 10 on the M6 to junction 6 being infamous for long traffic queues. This essentially will place both motorway passing through the area as unfeasible for quick travel, and we see this potentially causing a larger issue for the trucking industry and the economy as a whole.
There have been repeated calls to attempt to limit the economic impact of such works, with lanes dedicated for HGV’s with lesser speed limits, although it is unlikely that this will be put into place.
What Should You Do If Travelling Near These Roadworks?
Again, these are almost guaranteed to bring the area to a near standstill, so plan well ahead and find an alternate route if possible. If you must go through the roadworks to get to your destination, please drive safely, maintain a reasonable distance from the vehicles ahead and refrain from overtaking as this can cause roadblocks for everyone. Be absolutely sure that this time will be considered in any deadlines, or job times so you are not left behind schedule and the works will impact your job as little as possible.
What do you think of these roadworks? Although necessary, there is a lot more that Highways England could be doing to make disruption less major, and many have called for a truly independent, non-biased agency to check out roadwork contractors throughout their works, with fines for taking too long or not meeting budget.