One of the maddest things about our congested road network in the UK is the way the authorities chose to place most of the crucial pipes and cables for water, electricity, gas and telephones under the carriageway and then seal them in under piles of rubble and tarmac. Each time they need to replace or repair expensive roadworks are undertaken, disrupting the highway, increasing the costs of the utility business, and creating tensions between the utility customers as road users and the utility managements.
I am trying to persuade Councils and utility operators to place all utilities under verges or pavements when laying new ones, preferably in robust and secure conduits with access. We have long since stopped burying the cables and pipes of an office in the plaster of the walls, preferring to run them in architectural conduits with easy access usually under floors. Why not do the same for our main utilities?
Wokingham Borough has said it is adopting this for its new developments. Thames Water has said it likes the idea. It could be done for replacements as well as for new areas. Once installed the future costs of maintenance, repair and replacement will be greatly reduced. Above all our very limited road capacity will not be so readily reduced by utility works, and fewer people will be disturbed by the ominous sound of a pneumatic drill once again cutting up the highway.
I am taking this up with other major network providers. It’s a way to save utilities substantial money over the longer term, and to start to cut down on the number of times our roads are disrupted to improve or maintain basic systems unconnected with the roads.