Wednesday August 11th, the Highways Agency has outlined its work
to manage travel demand to the South West and urged eclipse
travellers to plan journeys to avoid peak times.
0345 50 40 30 and web site www.highways.gov.uk will offer an enhanced
service of real-time traffic conditions on routes to the South West
from Friday July 30th until Monday August 16.
The total eclipse of the sun on August 11th 1999 will send Cornwall
and South Devon into darkness, but equally, various degrees of
partial eclipse will be experienced across the UK mainland.
Highways Agency area manager David Wright said:
'Friday evenings and Saturdays during the day are particularly busy
times on routes to Devon and Cornwall every August, therefore we
advise motorists to plan journeys to avoid these peak times if at all
'The Highways Agency has been working with the police and local
authorities in the area for the past 15 months to plan for this
event. One of the most difficult aspects of forward planning is that
we are dealing with two major unknown factors - the number of people
who will decide to travel and when they will do so. One of our key
tasks over the eclipse period will be to provide reliable driver
information through our Information Line and website.
'We have done all we can to spread the load by encouraging people to
plan well ahead. Even so, I urge people not to consider travelling
into the West Country on the day of the eclipse to avoid
Work completed for the eclipse include:
* extensive research to identify spare capacity on the motorway and
trunk road network using traffic modelling techniques.
* designing traffic management measures to improve flows at key
'pinch points' such as extra signs to encourage lane discipline for
through traffic on the southern end of the M5.
* enhancing the Highways Agency Information Line 0345 50 40 30 and
web site www.highways.gov.uk to handle real-time traffic
information for the eclipse period only.
* producing and distributing leaflets 'Don't be left in the dark',
offering advice on travelling to the South West during this time.
* providing four new automatic traffic counters (three on the M5 and
four on the A303 in Somerset) to provide data for the eclipse
traffic control room.
* providing six closed circuit television cameras at strategic points
in Devon and Cornwall to provide pictures for the eclipse traffic
* enhancing the Devon CC traffic control room at County
Hall, Exeter with extra television monitors and improved software
so that it is able to gather and distribute information on motorway
and trunk road conditions in the area.
* suspending roadworks on key route into and within the South West
during the eclipse period (except for any emergency repairs).
* developing contingency plans todeal with potential problems such
as diversion routes to take traffic in the event of accidents.
* liasing with bus and train operators to identify any opportunity
for encouraging people to use alternatives to the car.
* liaising with Dorset, Wiltshire and Avon and Somerset police forces
on forward planning.
Arrangements for the eclipse have been made with Devon and Cornwall
Constabulary, Devon CC, Cornwall CC, Plymouth City Council and Torbay Council.
1. Copies of 'Don't be left in the dark' have been distributed to
motorway service areas and RoadChefs across South England and
South Wales, to road safety officers across the country and to
Sainsbury's petrol stations.
2. The Highways Agency is an Executive Agency of the Department of
the Environment, Transport and the Regions which manages,
maintains and improves the network of trunk roads and motorways in
England on behalf of the Secretary of State. It works closely with
other transport operators and with local authorities to integrate
the trunk road network with the rest of England's roads and other
forms of transport.