Collaborative streetworks between two major utility companies and the London Borough of Croydon to reduce disruption have been hailed as an example of best practice by the Greater London Authority (GLA).
Croydon Council officers worked with Thames Water and gas network company SGN to enable the replacement of mains under Epsom Road, followed by council road resurfacing, preventing residents, businesses and road-users from enduring three separate periods of work by various parties.
The joined-up approach being pioneered by the London Borough of Croydon not only reduces the normal disruption associated with roadworks, such as noise, lorry movements and traffic delays, but also cuts air pollution and saves money.
Deputy Mayor of London, Jules Pipe, will visit the project on May 20 to hear how nearly 100 days of disruption have been prevented – an estimated saving to the local economy of £678,000 – by Thames Water and SGN using the same road space and coordinating work timings. This innovative way of working is now set to be rolled out across other London boroughs through the Mayor of London’s Infrastructure and Development Coordination Team.
Jules Pipe, Deputy Mayor for Planning, Regeneration and Skills, said: “We all find it frustrating when London’s roads are dug up time and again by different utility companies, causing delays and congestion“This excellent scheme reduces the amount of time Londoners are unnecessarily sat in traffic jams caused by roadworks by promoting a common sense approach.
“With our population heading towards nine million, it is vital that we bring utility companies together to coordinate their work, reduce disruption and plan for growth efficiently.”
Steve Spencer, chief delivery officer at Thames Water, said: “It’s vital we strike the right balance between building a resilient network for the future, and minimising disruption on London’s busy roads so collaboration with local authorities and other utility companies is key to achieving this. The project we’re working on in Croydon is a great example of this joined up approach which we look forward to replicating in other areas.”
The Croydon project began when Thames Water’s design consultants Atkins and its partner Fluxx developed a forward-planning web map, compatible with systems used by Transport for London and the GLA, which reveals where upcoming works are planned on same road, sparking the opportunity to collaborate.
After successfully developing the tool to schedule Thames Water’s work on its own networks it became clear it could be used more widely to coordinate with other utility companies, so approaches to a number of local authorities and utility companies were made. LB Croydon then took up and further developed the project, from which the sharing of key programme data, including road resurfacing plans, led to the identification of more than 40kms of opportunities for combined work across the borough.
SGN General Manger Drew Reynolds said: “We understand roadworks can be frustrating for residents and road users, so it’s fantastic we’ve been able to collaborate with other utility companies to help minimise the length of disruption while we carry out our essential work in Epsom Road.
“It’s important we maintain and improve our network infrastructure to ensure a continued safe and reliable gas supply to local properties, and with the progress and time-saving benefits of working simultaneously, we’ll continue to replicate collaborative working to limit the impact of our work on communities in the future where possible.”
Guy Ledger - Infrastructure Digital Director at Atkins, said: "This has been a fantastic project and a great example of using new technology and agile ways of working to unlock collaboration and solve the long held frustrations caused by repeated roadworks. The best thing is, everyone wins; the utilities, Croydon Council and most of all residents, businesses and road users.”
Melanie Marchant of Fluxx, a consultancy supporting the project, said: “At Fluxx we believe in turning data into dialogue. By mapping out planned works, it was possible to identify the opportunity in Croydon. Further, by working shoulder to shoulder with a 'learn by doing' ethos we were able to bring together a group of passionate individuals, and drive teams to work collaboratively”