London Mayor, Boris Johnson, has hailed a commitment from Thames Water he secured for extra measures to cut congestion from its Victorian mains replacement programme.
Thames Water agreed to pilot less disruptive ways of working, in return for Johnson dropping former Mayor Ken Livingstone’s legal action against its proposed desalination plant on the Thames at Beckton.
Johnson said that the concessions to ‘allow traffic to move more freely,’ and on saving water, ‘show what can be achieved through a collaborative approach’.
The new Mayor was clear that ‘congestion, and drivers’ frustration, must be reduced,’ and issued a warning to all utilities that ‘roads must not be cordoned off when no one is working there’.
A spokeswoman for Thames Water said that the company had approached Johnson, in the knowledge that he had pledged to be ‘tougher with utilities’ to cut congestion.
In exchange for withdrawing Livingstone’s legal challenge – against the Government’s dismissal of his arguments that Newham council’s planning approval should be overturned – it pledged to pilot new ways of working.
‘We have worked hard at co-ordinating our water mains replacement works with other road and street works, but are keen to look at different ideas for reducing disruption.’
There would be ‘further discussions’ on what the pilots would involve, she said, but they could involve: working longer hours, taking advantage of lighter evenings; using Trenchlink plates to cover trenches; and excavating in footways, parking bays and verges. She acknowledged, however, that there ‘might be reasons why these measures aren’t practical’ for its current three-year programme to replace pipes in the West End.
Some London boroughs had argued that there were road safety issues with covering trenches with plates, she said. But it was possible that Johnson could give ‘additional impetus’ to the use of new methods.
Also this week, Johnson responded to claims that his intention to rephase traffic signals to smooth traffic flows would conflict with the aim of promoting walking (Surveyor, 8 May).
He told Surveyor: ‘We will ensure that we stick to current safety guidelines on the minimum amount of time a pedestrian has to cross a road.’
Livingstone had reduced capacity through changing signal timings, he claimed.