The A30/A35 construction team has paid a lot of attention to maintaining good relations with the local people affected by the improvement works.
The current public view of building roads such as those being constructed by BBTA is mixed. Both of the A30 and A35 new-build sections will relieve heavily congested single carriageway roads and raise the standard of life for the inhabitants of the villages being bypassed. But to do this, the new roads make their way through attractive areas of countryside.
Connect was faced with the task of clearing a strongly encamped group of protesters before site clearance work could start on the A30. BBTA project manager Ian Rowley says the group included protesters who had made the A30 their next stop since being evicted from the Newbury bypass site and eco-celebrity Swampy on his last mission before he made a name for himself at Manchester airport.
'The protesters set up camp in a dense wooded area soon after Connect was awarded the DBFO concession,' says Rowley. 'No delays or disruptions to the construction work were incurred because the eviction was carried out during the design phase of the project. The group was the first to be cleared using a private firm hired especially for the task, although in the event, the protesters were removed quite peacefully.'
Barry Ward is BBTA's community relations manager for the A30 and A35 schemes. 'Road builders did not communicate with local people enough in the past,' says Ward. 'It makes an amazing difference and pays great dividends if people are told beforehand what is going to happen in their area and if they are then kept up to date with progress.'
Ward spends a lot of his time visiting local schools and liaising with the 60 landowners and 14 district councils which neighbour both construction sites. He also co-ordinates the production and distribution of regular newsletters for each site which are used as a vital form of communication with the public, says Ward.
'People are generally very interested in what's going on and the feedback shows that the people that use or live by the existing road welcome the improvements, not least because they hope for some relief from the accidents that frequently occur along the route.'