As thousands of beleaguered drivers know only too well, it’s a hard enough task getting in and out of Gosport at the best of times.
As was reiterated this week with the launch of the Solent LEP’s transport strategy, Gosport is one of the largest towns in the country not to have a railway station.
And while the bus rapid transit Eclipse service now links the town to Fareham, the problem of Gosport’s geography – at the end of a peninsula – means that it suffers more than most from road woes.
So it’s astounding to report that a total of 6,131 days of roadworks was carried out over just four years on the A32 and Newgate Lane – the two main routes in and out of Gosport – in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. That is more than the total number of days in those years, meaning that on average there were several sets of roadworks at once every day.
The issue of utility companies having carte blanche to carry out work has long been a bugbear for both drivers and local councils. It was a law change several years ago that meant co-ordinating work on roads became nigh-on impossible.
But while we accept that some of these 6,131 days of work may have been for very minor repairs, and so over quickly, or for major work which no-one would want delayed, the simple fact is that it is too many.
Earlier this year the government announced that it was looking into plans to fine companies or councils that leave roadworks unattended at weekends, or that leave up temporary traffic lights unnecessarily. While that’s a common-sense step in the right direction, we say it is time to look again at trying to introduce co-ordination on the roads. If gas pipes need to be modernised, then phone lines should also be laid at that time. Not just for the convenience of drivers, but to try to ensure that our roads do not become a patchwork quilt of tarmac within months of being relaid.
We’re not opposed to roadworks per se – everyone recognises that they are a necessary frustration. But some fresh thinking – and legislation – would make many drivers’ lives a lot easier.