London these days is beginning to resemble California’s gold rush of 1849, everywhere you look somebody is digging a hole and staking their claim. If you are a regular passenger in London’s cabs you should look away now for you’ve almost certainly listened to your driver ranting on about this ad nauseum, but for the rest of you indulge me if you will, as I come to tell of the roadworks that now infest London.
It is estimated that in London last year there were 370,000 scheduled roadworks and with 85,000 streets in the capital (tell me I tried to memorise 25,000 of them whilst doing the Knowledge) it has been extrapolated that each street would have been dug up every three months.
[W]ith almost every bridge across the Thames needing repairs, and due to two severe winters as a result of global warming an estimated 180,000 potholes have appeared on London’s streets needing urgent repairs, you have a recipe for chaos. Transport for London have admitted that more than 5,500 roads are being worked on at any time, at a cost of £1 billion a year, which is the highest number of road repairs in post-War London.
How can it be that the Nation’s Capital has got away with the necessity for repairs for so long and almost overnight over one-third of a million locations are now in urgent need of repair?
Part of that answer is that our water mains haven’t been upgraded since Victorian times and also the 2012 London Olympics are putting an extra dimension in the need for upgrading London as we “Dig for Victory”.
Our Mayor ‘Bicycle Clips’ Boris promised two years ago a ‘holy war on holey streets’, so where are the regulations he promised to require utility companies to synchronise their work and fine them if they leave their workings untouched for weeks.
Thames Water it is estimated are responsible for over 60 per cent of all roadworks as they replace their water mains, is it beyond their ability to descend en masse on an area, replace the mains and then move on to a previously unaffected part of London?
It won’t surprise you that London now has a committee for co-ordinating bridge works, so what were they doing allowing that at the same time over 70 per cent of London’s bridges would have ongoing repairs?
At least some enterprising fellow is making a stand, an i-phone app is being developed called iGripe. The iGripe is an application to protest about potholes. You use it to photograph any pothole into which your car, bike or 10-tonne truck has just tumbled. Then it will send the offending photo, plus detailed gripe, to the local jobsworth responsible. Brilliant.
I’ve got to stop griping now the traffic has started moving again through the roadworks, talk to you later; or when you are in the back of my cab . . . stuck in traffic.