MUNICIPAL ENGINEERS this week said that unrealistic public expectations were among the root causes of last Thursday's chaos on the M11 and other roads in south east England.
Technically, nothing more could be done to tackle the impact of heavy snow and icy conditions, said Association of Municipal Engineers chairman John Sanders. He said the real problem was poor communications and unrealistic public expectations.
Across eastern England 61 gritters were operating on the trunk road network, with 70% of trunk roads receiving treatment.
Most county roads were also kept open.
'Traffic was at its peak and there was a huge dumping of snow, ' said Sanders. 'The point is that you can only do so much when the road network is at capacity.
'The real issue is educating the public to use the network in a sensible way, and ensuring that the information given to the public allows people to make reasoned choices, ' he added.
'Information systems must be improved.'
Passengers stranded in their cars on the M11 and A14 had complained of the lack of radio traffic bulletins and the absence of warnings from electronic message signs at the roadside.
The Highways Agency's 2001/02 annual report boasted that an extra 243km of motorway was now equipped with such signs. Few were warning motorists last Thursday.
A Highways Agency spokesman said: 'The situation was changing rapidly and traffic builds up quickly. Whether our warnings were adequate or not is being looked at.'