‘£400,000 bill is money well spent’

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Hertfordshire – with the M25 and M1 running through it – has some of the busiest roads in the country, so when something goes wrong it can mean misery for motorists.

Now a team of highways experts – previously dotted all around the county – have been brought together to keep traffic moving.

A total of £400,000 has been spent to create an Integrated Transport Control Centre, run by Herts County Council in partnership with highways contractor Ringway. It brings together a team of 16 staff that run the centre from 7am to 7pm.

The team at County Hall in Hertford covers all aspects of highways, from co-ordinating roadworks to helping to get traffic moving when accidents happen. It means they can prevent the frustration of the same stretch of road being dug up several times for different utility works – instead workers ‘piggyback’ onto each other’s projects.

The syncing on traffic lights – there are 172 in Herts – can be changed to help get traffic flowing during peak times and traffic signs keep drivers informed and offer alternative routes.

Herts County Council assistant network manager Derek Twigg said: “We can’t build our way out of congestion. If we are looking for people to come into Hertfordshire, we have to have an open and running network.”

The team, which has access to a network of CCTV, is also working on a web page – due to go live this summer – that will give people all the information they need to plan their journey. There is information on roadworks, events that might delay journeys, real-time public transport information and car park details.

Councillor Stuart Pile, who oversees highways and transport, said: “We are a very successful county and we like people to come and live and work here but they won’t do that if we can’t sort out the congestion. £400,000 is a lot of money but the benefits it is going to bring far outweighs that.”