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Rewind: Live Q&A with Richard Davies, county councillor for transport

Richard Davies, the Executive Councillor for Highways and Transportation at Lincolnshire County Council joined The Lincolnite for a lunch time Q&A live chat, answering your questions.

He answered questions sent in via social media from midday to 1pm.

This liveblog has finished. Updates are displayed chronologically.

Richard Davies is now with us in the office, ready to answer your questions.

Let’s start with a question from Nathaniel Drax, who asked: “Why do Lincolnshire County Council insist on using the grey grit to surface dress the roads? The A57 is currently like driving down a desert road and it’s near lethal for motorcyclists.”

Surface dressing is a very standard way of not only repairing roads but also preventing further damage, akin to painting your wooden shed on a regular basis. Ideally we aim to surface dress (grit) the majority of our roads on a regular basis in order to prevent water getting into the road which then causes damage during the colder weather. In addition the new surface provides for better grip which in turn makes the road safer.
We do occasionally have issues with the stones not setting well and work hard to compact them and sweep the lose stone up.

While on this topic, Josh Hill asked: “The day after the Department for Transport declared the cycle bridge design inadequate for the Eastern Bypass you stated that you will still go ahead with the works. Will this be a redesign during construction?”

The inspector has not said the bridge is unsafe.
What has been queried is the distance from the new slip road to the proposed footway/cycleway crossing on Hawthorne Road. The inspector believes that we need to allow better visibility so that cars exiting the new bypass are not a danger to pedestrians and cyclists looking to cross Hawthorne Road.
We cannot start building the road until we have the Side Roads Order in place and therefore are currently working up plans to address these concerns.

Christopher Page asked: “Why was the closure of Hawthorn Road done in such a underhand manner, i.e. an A4 size planning notice at the side of a main road as you come in to Lincoln, and why have you ignored a petition with over 3500 signatures against the closure?”

The process we followed for advertising the plans and the road closures follows the legal format we are obliged to use. When first proposed at the planning stage, some time ago, all of the plans were published and a great deal of consultation was done. We have spoken to users, parish councils, cycling groups as well as local residents and the idea of the footbridge came out of that process.
We have received a petition on the closure of the road however it is not possible to build a major piece of infrastructure without some people being disadvantaged. Specifically in this case we feel, and the inspector agreed, that the diversion is appropriate. As recently as yesterday I met with local groups and are looking to try and accommodate their concerns as we finalise the plans.

Craig Michael Chaplin asked: “What work has been done to assess the impact of the closure of Hawthorn Road on the Outer Circle/Greetwell/Monks Road junction? This is a busy junction at peak times and traffic can come to a stop as the mini roundabout and current traffic light system bottleneck traffic entering onto Outer Circle road.”

As part and parcel of all schemes we conduct traffic and impact assessments that feed into the planning and design process. The overall aim of the scheme is to reduce traffic heading through Lincoln that is headed elsewhere but also to allow an alternative to traversing the city than simply driving through the middle. The work that has been done suggests a substantial overall reduction in through traffic of approximately 25%. When combined with the East West Link road and Canwick Hill upgrades we should less traffic, moving more freely through our city.

Natalie Croft said: “How can Lincoln High Street be improved with reference to the amount of time the train line is down — it seems the city is held ransom to the train lines.”

We have no control over the level crossings as Network Rail and the train companies divert more trains through Lincoln the problem is only going to get worse.
In order to try and mitigate the impact of the crossings being closed more frequently we have successfully persuaded Network Rail to build footbridges over the track on Brayford Wharf East (not far from where I am sitting) and on the High Street. These bridges, which start next year, will allow pedestrians to cross regardless of what the trains are doing.
For motorists relief comes in the form of the East West Link – this road will connect the High Street to Pelham Bridge, via Tentercroft Street. In short this will allow cars to get from the University roundabout to Pelham Bridge quickly so they too can cross the railway regardless of trains.

Nicky Dring said: “I’d like to raise my growing concerns about the reopening of Whisby Road in the not too distant future. I manage the nursery adjacent to the Teal Park roundabout and I am hugely concerned about the speed people do on the dual carriageway when approaching the roundabout from the A46 bypass. My office window faces the roundabout and I frequently see and hear cars screech around the corner. I can only imagine this will get worse once the rest of the road has reopened as (like many of these new roundabouts) two lanes become one in a matter of seconds. This a disaster waiting to happen!” she added.

We work closely through the Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership to ensure we design and build roads to be as safe as possible. Whenever changes are made we try and inform as many as possible that the road layout is different and that they should take extra care. The LRSP monitor our roads continually looking for accident black spots and if necessary we will take action should there prove to be an issue.

Sue Cutts said: “If you decide to fill in potholes, could we please have them done right not just a bit of tarmac thrown in for it to break up with the next rainfall.”

No one is more frustrated about potholes than me. The reason that very often our repairs seem futile is that we still face an uphill battle to repair the large volume of damage quickly. We currently have to fix serious potholes with 24 hours to avoid liability for damage and therefore our repair gangs aim to fix as many as possible in the day with a complete fix scheduled for a later date. Quite simply if all potholes were repaired as a final fix each time we’d only be able to get through a tiny number of potholes per day – as the more substantial works would take longer, require traffic lights and cost a great deal more.

Clearly this situation is not idea and therefore we are looking to alter the way we work. Firstly we are exploring changing our policy to make it more flexible in how we respond, giving us more time to do a final fix first time. We are also looking at new technologies and materials that enable a quicker fix. In particular we are trailing a new plastic compound that potentially offers a better fix and are using the ‘pot hole machines’ which offer a one stop fix that is permanent and quicker than the manual labour.

Our guiding principle is to prevent potholes forming, hence processes such as surface dressing, and where they do form to fix them properly by resurfacing lengths of damaged/weak road. Quite often once one pothole forms in a road surface then very quickly another does nearby therefore it make sense to replace the stretch of damaged road rather keeping coming out to it – this does require more planning however.

That’s it for our live Q&A with Richard Davies on Lincolnshire roads and transport. Thanks for joining us and hopefully we managed to answer some of your most topical questions.