Motorists across Brighton and Hove can breathe a sigh of relief as Southern Water’s three-year project to replace nearly 35 miles of water mains is due to end within weeks.
The final stages of the project to replace Brighton’s Victorian sewers is scheduled for completion by Monday 30 November. It began in June 2006.
The water company will, however, still be digging up the city’s roads to carry out similar work but on a smaller scale.
The meeting was also told that the city’s streets are dug up 20,000 times a year.
The council carries out nearly 9,000 repairs a year while utility companies – water, gas, electricity, phone and cable companies – account for a further 8,500 repairs. Developers carried out most of the remaining roadworks.
In a report by traffic manager Peter Bloxham, councillors were told that Southern Water and Southern Gas Networks were both carrying out large-scale mains replacement programmes in the city (see our report about roadworks starting in St James’s Street, Brighton, in February).
Mr Bloxham’s report to councillors said: “These gas and water main replacement programmes are to a large extent driven by the industry regulators.
“In the case of the gas mains Southern Gas Networks are required to ensure every gas main within 30m of a property is replaced with plastic pipework.
“In addition to these water and gas main replacements EDF Energy is undertaking a programme of upgrades to their high-voltage cable networks throughout the city.
“This is to ensure that the network can meet the power requirements of the city and surrounding area in the years to come.
“The challenge for the council is to co-ordinate all this essential activity and the competing needs for road space between major utility works and highway improvements works while minimising traffic disruption, particularly in the city centre.
“In addition all this has to be co-ordinated around the many events occurring in the city, such as the May Festival, summer tourist season, autumn conference schedule, Christmas shopping period, etc.
“The list of events being run in the city is ever growing. In 2010 the first ever Brighton Marathon is to be held.
“This is a major event affecting a considerable part of the city’s road network around which works and other activities on the highway will have to be co-ordinated.
“This will not only affect the route of the race itself, for as where roads are closed to facilitate the event it must be ensured that any diversion routes provided are also clear from obstruction.”
Mr Bloxham said that the council’s Network Co-ordination Team tried to persuade the utility companies to work together. The aim was to cut costs and minimise disruption to residents and traders and delays to road users.
One example involved persuading Southern Water and Southern Gas Networks to co-operate on works in North Road, Brighton. The duration of the disruption was halved from about 520 days – or almost 18 months – to about 260 days.
Joint working is not, however, a common occurrence, Mr Bloxham said.