In praise of... the Highways Agency

Posted on Mon 20 December 2010 by alex in general

It seems any severe weather brings on a large collective national moan. I don't wish to minimise the hassle to people that have been affected by the weather and trapped in places they didn't want to be however I think we are often too quick to criticise when things don't quite work out how we want. I thought I would take this opportunity to offer some praise for when things work well.

My journey up to Manchester was curtailed slightly by it taking around an hour to get 4 miles away from my house. Despite being out the doors early an incident closed 2 lanes of the main local artery leading to massive tailbacks. As the brunt of rush hour approached I decided to abandon the trek in the closing darkness and try again on the morning.

In retrospect this was a sensible choice. The side roads are fairly slippy and daylight offers a degree of protection as things are a lot more visible. We left Cambridge around 7 in the morning and had a trouble free journey up to Manchester. The main arteries where receiving plenty of grit and combined with a fewer cars on the road generally behaving sensibly we made good time. It only got slightly sketchy once we had turned onto the estate roads which were a mixture of compacted snow and bits of ice.

Sue has documented the fun we had getting up to the Fisherman's retreat rather icy hill. However once we had reached the top and had our first thirst quenching pint things went swimmingly well. I can certainly attest to having my desire for pig well and truly sated.

We made the decision to head back early to avoid any late afternoon traffic snarl ups. The corridor between Manchester and Cambridge (M6/A14) had stayed free of snow overnight and we had yet another event free trip and nice clear trunk roads. The only minor problem was my windscreen washer kept freezing up despite being practically concentrated screen wash at this point. We saw a low of around -12 degrees on the journey, the warmest being around -3.5.

I did my bit by checking the conditions before travel and making sure I had plenty of petrol in the car and emergency rations and blankets just in case. However I would like to extend my thanks to the Highways Agency for ensuring the roads we travelled were clear and trouble free. And for those places that weren't quite as smooth flowing spare a thought for those dedicated staff freezing their proverbials off while trying to get the roads running again.