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HIGHWAYS AGENCY URGES ECLIPSE SEEKERS TO PLAN JOURNEYS

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With only one month to go until the total eclipse of the sun on ...
With only one month to go until the total eclipse of the sun on

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.

The Highways Agency also announced that its Information Line on

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

possible.

'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

disappointment.'

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

control room.

* 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.

Notes

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.

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