One of the most mad things in the UK public sector is the continued placing of pipes and cables under main roads, often under the middle of the road. Given the weight of modern traffic the pipes need to be placed quite deep and they have to be robust to withstand the pressures. Every time a repair or replacement is needed the road has to be dug up. It either has to be closed completely, or a lane taken out to do the work. The workmen have to watch out, where traffic is maintained on a portion of the road.
I am having another push to get the government to encourage or require a new approach. Pipes and cables can be placed in conduits or larger pipes which can be placed under pavements or verges, away from the main carriageway. There can be locked access points to the cables and pipes at regular intervals, obviating the need to dig anything up again. Access to the cables and pipes can be achieved for remote devices. New pipes and cables can be threaded through from the access points and old ones removed at will.
This should be mandatory for all new housing estates, commercial developments and roads being installed. It could also be required for all replacements of existing utilities, which is a regular occurrence given the need for larger pipes and cables as demand expands for these services.
I have talked to representatives of the utilities who expressed some sympathy for this view, but not enough to persuade them to do it as a matter of routine without government instruction or encouragement. Councils too have an important role to play as the planning and highways authorities most affected by the road disruption utility works cause. The companies will also find if they adopt this customer friendly approach they will lose an important source of friction with local communities who are often critical of the delays utility works inflict.