MRA Councillor Stuart Selleck has raised concerns about the length of time the Walton Road works are taking, and the fact that there often appears to be noone working on the stretches where the carriageway has been closed. He has been sent the following response:
Dear Cllr. Selleck,
Thank you for your enquiry regarding these mains replacement works which Nick has forwarded to me. Whilst we understand your concerns about the duration of the works, there are some mitigating factors.
The biggest section of main in the current works was due to be replaced by insertion; this process is fairly much as it says, the new PE (plastic) main is inserted up the old metal main from a pit at either end of the works. Unfortunately, whilst the main in the carriageway was mapped as being of a diameter larger than the replacement main, the reality proved to be that it was smaller than the new main. This meant that the main had to be replaced by the open cut trenching method which takes considerably longer for the equivalent length than insertion.
The works also involve the connection of new service from the new main into properties. The works here have apparently been delayed by some business premises refusing or restricting access to be connected until certain times. Whilst we understand the concerns that businesses have regarding the times at which their supply is disconnected, it seems somewhat harsh to criticise the gas works for moving slowly when they have to some degree been delayed by access issues caused by the people who the works are designed to benefit.
Whilst there will be times when workers may not be seen on site, that does not necessarily mean that works are not taking place. Certainly in the case of service connections the works will be taking place on the customer’s property meaning that operatives may be hidden from public view. Once reinstatements have been undertaken, there will be times that the works are unoccupied whilst materials cure. It will not always be possible to move up the road and continue whilst the materials cure as there is a limit to the length of the shuttle lane that is viable; it is the restriction on the shuttle lane length that means we cannot put a second crew in to shorten the overall duration.
The works have been, and will continue to be, monitored regularly by our Streetworks Inspector, Paul Brooks. Paul’s experience of the crew currently on site, which is a different crew from the one working before Christmas, is that they are quicker and more efficient than those previously present on site, and the reaction from businesses on site has been generally positive towards the workers. I have made Paul aware of the issues raised to yourself and ask that he pay a little more attention to the site in light of this. We are monitoring extension requests closely and they will not be approved unless we are satisfied that they are necessary, but equally we need to be very careful about refusing extension requests on safety critical works; the mains replacement is required under Government Directive to replace all metal mains in close proximity to housing with PE mains in light of safety issues raised following an explosion in South Lanarkshire.
The current works along Walton Road East Molesey are scheduled to finish on the 9th of April, and the works will then move onto Walton Road West Molesey from the 12th of April and are scheduled to finish on the 18th of June.
Hopefully that answers your questions but if there are any further points please don’t hesitate to contact me.