Road worker Shaun Frost, who works for Colas North Surfacing on roads across the region for Highways England, is part of an army of workers who have worked more than a million hours overnight repairing and maintaining the region’s major roads.
Shaun leads a resurfacing team and works on roads across Yorkshire and the North East, recently completing jobs on the A1(M).
Whilst the closures are usually put on 8pm until 6am our main hours of working are between 10pm and 3am when the majority of people are asleep. You might not always see us but we are out on the roads getting the job done.
More than two thirds of roadworks take place overnight in the region and Shaun is supporting a new initiative to let drivers know what happens on the roads while they are asleep.
A new YouTube video has also been released giving a behind the scenes look at the wide range of work that happens overnight in the region.
Night time working has its own set of challenges and safety is a priority for Shaun and his team.
Shaun has been working on roads for the past 15 years and explains that planning is an essential part of his job.
We are very aware that if a job runs over time this has a knock on effect – if we don’t finish on time then people are delayed and we are all aware of how important it is to stick to timescales.
When you work at night you have limited resources to back you up if things go wrong. We have to make sure that we plan for that and have additional resources on standby so that if something goes wrong we can still get the job done.
Shaun explains that weather is often the biggest barrier to planning.
Weather plays a big part in the work we do. You can plan as much as possible but jobs can and do get cancelled due to bad weather. Visibility is a big issue – especially when putting out traffic management on site – especially spray from passing vehicles. The safety of everyone using the road has to be the number one priority.
Traffic management is the biggest and the most dangerous aspect of road work. You cannot cut corners and everything needs to be done by the book. It is important that drivers stick to the limit. When you have a 50 mph limit in place and vehicles are speeding past you on the road the A1M is a scary place to be.
While the majority of us are asleep, teams of road workers operate throughout the night to improve and maintain the region’s motorways and major A roads to make journeys safer and smoother.
Workers on roads in the North East clocked up more than 260,000 hours overnight between September 2014 and August 2015 with the majority of work carried out in October.
In the past year contractors for Highways England laid 35,531 tonnes of road surfacing material and resurfaced more than 60 miles of road overnight across the region.
Highways England Service Delivery Team Leader, Andrew Brown, said:
To minimise disruption to road users we continue to do the vast majority of our work overnight – including repairs, maintenance and smaller improvements.
At night we generally have a 10 hour window from 8pm to 6am when the roads are quieter and we can minimise disruption to road users, but during the daytime we generally restrict working hours to 9:30am to 3:30pm only giving us a 6 hour window, which very much restricts the type of operations we can carry out during the day.
That means we put road workers out on the motorway and major A roads network every night in all kinds of weather to keep the economy on the move by carrying out repairs and improvements when the roads are quiet.
More than 11,000 hours were spent working overnight on the £61 million A1 Coal House to Metro Centre improvement scheme.
Highways England’s commitment to 24-hour working doesn’t end with roadworks. Its customer contact centre is staffed around the clock alongside the Traffic England website and Twitter feeds, which give drivers live traffic information when they need it.
Traffic officers also patrol motorways through the night – and are there to help deal with incidents and keep traffic moving. And the regional control centre, based at Wakefield, has staff glued to CCTV screens through the day and night, helping to monitor traffic and manage incidents.