AN APOLOGY to long-suffering county motorists on the M5 has been labelled ‘discourteous’ in an outspoken attack from the county’s highways chief.
Coun Alan Amos, cabinet member for Highways at Worcestershire County Council launched the fierce broadside after Zbigniew Twarowski apologised to motorists for measures put in place to reduce traffic on the motorway during the Oldbury viaduct works.
Motorists are yet again facing longer journeys after Highways England ‘imposed’ lane closures between Worcester and the M42 junction to slow traffic approaching roadworks at the Oldbury Viaduct between junctions 2 and 1.
The latest disruption on the M5 follows years of misery for commuters after the disruption caused by the Smart Motorway upgrade works.
Despite Mr Twarowski’s apology as the Senior Project Manager for Highways England, Coun Amos said there was ‘nothing new in the letter’.
“I would have expected the Chief Executive of Highways England to have replied to a letter to him from the Leader of the County Council, not some bureaucrat.
“Clearly, this again proves that Highways England is a government quango not accountable to anybody.
“The letter does not explain why motorists more than three junctions away should be deliberately targeted for disruption and delays on project many miles away.
“Why not tell drivers and let them make their own choice?”
The controversial Worcester councillor also claimed it Highways England were engaged in ‘one way chats’ with County Hall highways officers and were ‘neither listening to nor acting on anything they said.’
In his letter to Observer readers, Mr Twarowski said the work at Oldbury was the largest concrete repair project, by value, ever carried out in Britain.
“The scale of the repair work is immense and, unfortunately, disruption is unavoidable. I recognise this is unwelcome, both for motorists and local communities.
“I also recognise that delivery of the M5 junctions 4a to 6 smart motorway upgrade has already inconvenienced local communities in Worcestershire.
Mr Twarowski admitted the schemes would not have been planned so close together but highways chiefs were left with no choice because of the deterioration of the viaduct at Oldbury.
“The lane restrictions introduced at junction 4a are part of a package of carefully planned measures to balance the flow of traffic across Worcestershire and the West Midlands as a whole,” he said.
“I fully appreciate road users’ frustrations around this. Junction 4a is some distance from the work at Oldbury but it is the last point at which road users can decide to use an alternative route on the motorway network, rather than less suitable local roads, which would cause widespread congestion.”
Highways England would continue to assess the plans and make changes where needed according to Mr Twarowski.
“My team is also in discussions with Worcestershire County Council and is already working with them to improve our signage on local and strategic routes.,” he said.
“Motorists can then make more informed choices about which route they take and how long their journey is likely to be.”