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Logistics operators gave a thumbs up this week to National Highways’ plans to close motorways and A-roads for up to two weeks in order to speed up the delivery of roadworks.

Other measures announced this week by National Highways include an increase in the use of the higher speed limit of 60mph past work sites, clearer messaging for drivers, more effective diversion routes and a decluttering of the roadside.

National Highways said the move to introduce full closures of motorways and A-roads will allow roadworks to be completed “relatively quickly as an alternative to months or even years of partial closures”.

The plans are designed to cut costs and emissions, improve safety and minimise the impact on local communities and drivers caused by major road works.

Project managers are being asked to consider the approach as part of the planning for forthcoming schemes.

Some measures are already being employed in a limited number of schemes, National Highways revealed, including the construction of a new bridge over the M42, carried out over the Christmas periods in 2021 and again during the Christmas period of 2022 when traffic is lightest.

“This is an alternative to 18 months of lane closures, narrow lanes and speed restrictions along with more than 100 overnight closures,” National Highways explained.

Plans are also being drawn up to complete major improvements to the A47/A11 junction outside Norwich via one full nine-day closure and a limited number of overnight closures using “innovative” off-site construction methods, NH said.

“This would be as an alternative to almost three years of lane closures, contraflows and a 30mph speed limit,” National Highways added.

However full road closures of roads – normally for a maximum of two weeks – will remain the exception rather than the norm, the company said.

Separately, National Highways is also carrying out multiple maintenance works together on the same stretch of road to maximise the benefit of a closure.

It pointed to works between two junctions on the M53 where routine cyclical maintenance and reactive works were grouped together, cutting workforce exposure to moving traffic by 5,000 hours.

Laura Baker, National Highways customer service director for major projects, said that “prolonged roadworks can be stressful for drivers and local communities so we’re committed to exploring other ways to further minimise the impact.” She added that local communities will be consulted prior to any full closure.

Kate Jennings, policy director at Logistics UK, said: “Logistics operators are the lifeblood of the UK economy and to support industry effectively, need to provide efficient, timely deliveries.

“Network disruptions impact their ability to deliver the best service to their customers, so Logistics UK welcomes today’s announcement.

“Reducing the overall time spent working on the network to complete a scheme, supported by an improved approach to diversions and roadside communications, should result in a better experience for both drivers and operators.

Mark O’Doherty, director of UK line haul at DHL Express UK, said: “We welcome National Highways’ plans to reduce the impact of works on their network and improve the two-way communication with road users.

“Each year we run over 150,000 time-definite movements on the strategic road network, supporting our customers to trade with international markets in over 220 countries and territories worldwide.

“Every minute counts when shipments need to connect with a departing aircraft, so having a reliable and an efficient strategic route network is absolutely critical.”