This article was published in 2009, in Newsletter 83.
During 2008 EDF Energy, a very large energy company which delivers electricity to about eight million UK customers, installed more than two miles of electricity cable along Cherry Hinton Road and its continuation beyond the city boundary as Fulbourn Road and Cambridge Road. A deep trench a metre wide was dug and refilled as the cable was laid.
The quality of the road reinstatement is exceptionally good. The resurfacing matches the existing surface and stood up well to recent frost and snow. The work was all done in a single operation, instead of using the widespread two-stage process in which the work is first filled and given a temporary surface and is then resurfaced weeks or months later when the filled material has consolidated. EDF deserve to be congratulated on their work.
Lessons to be learned
We must learn from this good example. Others who dig up our roads, footways and cycle lanes still commonly use out-of-date two-stage techniques. These are permitted by the County Council even though they involve both disruption over a longer period and inadequate surfacing for quite long periods. Sometimes, the so-called permanent repair isn’t done properly. A rather frequent cause of longstanding difficulty for cyclists is the small trench dug at right-angles across a cycle lane and not properly reinstated even years later. We suggest that the County Council upgrades its requirements to compel those who dig up our roads to reinstate them to a high standard in a single effective operation.
In one significant respect EDF have not completed their reinstatement properly. They have failed to replace the red surfacing where their trench crosses Advanced Stop Lines and cycle lanes. They have replaced white lining and white cycle symbols but the standard is unacceptably low – they are already worn out. On Cherry Hinton Road inbound at the junction with the Perne Road roundabout, a length of the outer part of the cycle lane has, as a result, become barely visible.
A few days ago I witnessed road workers drilling a small hole into the tarmac surfacing of EDF’s reinstated trench. I enquired what they were doing and was told that they were checking the depth of the tarmac. I failed to ask whether they were doing this on behalf of the County Council or of EDF, but it is certainly good news that checks are made. I pointed out the failure to reinstate the red ASL and cycle lane surfacing and the poor quality of the white lining, but I have no idea whether they have reported this.
Provision for cyclists should be treated more seriously
I had hoped that the red surfacing and white lining would be renewed as part of the County Council’s own welcome ‘refreshment’ programme for such surfacing, but I now know that it will not be in the current round. I intend to ask the County Council if they will ask EDF to do the work that clearly they should have done. The quality of most of EDF’s work in Cherry Hinton Road is to be applauded, but provision for cyclists should be treated more seriously.