Salisbury Road residents find themselves entangled in a web of frustration as delays continue to plague the much-needed reconstruction of their road. What was originally planned for completion in 5 days has been extended by unforeseen events and obstacles but also poor project planning. Residents have now been subjected to the loss of the road for nearly a month with the attendant loss of car parking, emergency access for ambulances and the loss of all vehicle deliveries. All those driving through and around High Barnet will have been adversely affected by this project.
The 384 bus:
The 384 bus, re-routed between Alston Road and Staplyton Rd in 2020, is almost certainly to have been the culprit in the recent serious deterioration of the road surface. Despite objections from residents and a legal challenge, the project to reroute the bus along this Victorian-built road went ahead, with the road suffering significant recent deterioration. Although TfL remains reluctant to attribute the damage directly to the bus, the road's incapacity to withstand the additional 274,000 tons per year has become evident.
Unfortunately, there appears to be no plans for TfL to review their decision.
The failure to keep to the original timetable has resulted in a rush to get the job completed with serious reservations being expressed by those involved in the work that the re-instated road surface (and the utility pipes beneath) will be able to survive its reinstatement.
Utility Mapping Unveils Challenges:
During the summer utility mapping, it became apparent that underground services were too close to the road's surface. This discovery raised concerns about the road's ability to bear the weight of heavy vehicles like the 384 bus. The intended five-day project has spiralled into a prolonged inconvenience, much to the residents' dismay.
Construction vehicles' weight has led to water leaks and power outages, pressing down, and damaging essential services. Despite notifying Affinity Water about the work, the water company declined to upgrade the pipe work, highlighting a failure in infrastructure investment. Unplanned emergency resurfacing due to a hydraulic fluid leak further added over £1 million in costs, necessitating compensation for affected local businesses.
Weather Woes and Compromised Integrity:
Extreme weather is cited as a reason for delays, though the work's original start date in July might have been more weather appropriate. The reconstruction process involves removing tar and the base, laid approximately 150 years ago, and compacting the underlying clay. Concerns arise about the road's suitability for a bus as contractors, under pressure from Barnet council, lay tarmac on saturated clay, risking future collapses under the bus's weight.
Contractor Woes and Community Impact:
Contractors TK:JV, and the previous contractor Riley, expressed concerns about late-year work but were overruled by senior council officers. The decision has led to widespread delays affecting not only Salisbury Road residents but the entire local community. Car displacement and extended travel times have become common, impacting daily life, and prompting the possibility of additional remedial work, further burdening the strained council budget.
The council's imposition of a 7.5-ton weight restriction from November 27, 2023, to January 31, 2024, adds uncertainty to Salisbury Road's future as a permanent route. Residents question TfL's initial assessment of the road's suitability for a bus, especially considering the weight limitations and infrastructure challenges.
Ongoing Issues and Resident Resilience:
Residents continue to grapple with ongoing issues, including restricted emergency service access, water contamination, power outages, gas leaks, disrupted water supplies, and property damage. The decision-making process surrounding the project raises fundamental questions for residents, highlighting what appears to be a flawed and costly use of public funds.
A Touch of Humour Amidst Hardship:
In an attempt to lift spirits, residents introduced 'Salli the duck.' Unfortunately, the council failed to see the humour, and 'Salli' is now missing, adding a touch of irony to an already challenging situation. Despite the challenges, residents remain resilient, seeking answers and hoping for a swift resolution to the Salisbury Road roadworks saga.