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To help keep life-saving medicine, equipment, supplies and key workers travelling safely across the county, road resurfacing works will be restarting soon, Dorset Council said on Wednesday.

It said highways construction sites have been closed and programmes of planned repairs paused since Monday 23 March, when social distancing measures were introduced.

But following the Government’s guidance for construction activity – that it should continue where it fits with both the current Public Health England requirements and in accordance with industry safety guidance – Dorset Council says it will be restarting a programme of surfacing works from Wednesday 15 April.

Councillor Ray Bryan, Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, said: ‘We are operating in unprecedented times. In collaboration with our private sector partner Hanson Contracting, we have adapted our ways of working so that we can not only adhere to highway works health and safety, but we can also ensure the safety of our workers and residents by sticking to social distancing guidelines.

‘Our revised list of surfacing sites is made up of roads that pose a risk to the safe movement of essential goods and services due to their deteriorating condition.’

Taking into account the current reduction of traffic flows of between 50 to 60 per cent across Dorset Council’s road network, roads have been selected with the following in mind:

  • Normally busy roads will be quieter
  • Reduced school traffic and public transport
  • Fewer pedestrians

Current traffic flows will also allow for extending working hours to reduce overall costs and the duration of works. The roads being resurfaced will be away from hospitals and emergency services to ensure access to these is not disrupted.

Additional safety measures are also being taken to ensure the health and safety of workers, including:

  • Single person vehicle movements both to and from site
  • Maintaining current social distancing requirements at all times
  • Daily toolbox talks to share the latest safe working guidance and COVID-19 updates
  • Daily health screening involving temperature checks and general well-being
  • No high-risk workers on site
  • Revised working practices to reduce the number of staff on site while still maintaining health and safety standards when working on the highway
  • Changes to site welfare, including additional toilet facilities and hygiene provision

Councillor Bryan added: ‘We are working closely with other highway authorities across the south west and with industry bodies to share knowledge of new ways of working. One thing is very clear, this essential maintenance will only be carried out if it is safe to do so and the health of our workforce is included within that.

‘Please be considerate to our workforce, they are working within the guidelines laid out by the government for construction works, and we are proud to be able to contribute in these extraordinary times by ensuring the safety of Dorset’s key workers.’

Over the last three weeks, highways work has focussed on repairing safety defects and carrying out inspections – which are statutory activities to ensure the safe condition of roads, pavements and bridges.

The first roads scheduled for resurfacing are:

  • Dorchester Road, Upton – 15 April, two-way lights 9am to 4pm
  • A350, End Farm, Sturminster Marshall – 16 April, road closed from 9am to 4pm
  • Hogshill, Beaminster – 20 to 24 April, road closed 7pm to 6am
  • Fleet Street, Beaminster – 24 to 25 April, road closed 7pm to 6am
  • Tunnel Road, Beaminster – 27 to 30 April, road closed 8.30am to 5pm
  • Portland Road, Weymouth – 30 April to 5 May, convoy working 7pm to 6am

Up to date information on planned road works across the Dorset area can be found at www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/roadworks or by following @TravelDorset on Twitter.

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