Press release

Merseyside drivers urged not to risk road workers’ lives

The lives of road workers in Merseyside are being put at risk by drivers ignoring overnight closures at one of England’s busiest motorway junctions.

Switch Island

Contractors for Highways England have reported 23 separate incidents in the past two months where road users have driven into the roadworks for the £3 million improvement project at Switch Island, where the M57, M58 and three A roads all join together.

Incidents have included a lorry driver who travelled through the construction area without stopping forcing road workers to quickly get out of the way, a motorcyclist who swerved around a worker when he tried to stop the driver to explain the dangers, and the driver of a 4x4 who swore at a worker who tried to offer advice before driving away.

Drivers are now being warned that their details will be passed on to Merseyside Police and they could face prosecution if they deliberately ignore roads closures to try and save time on their journeys.

Karl Sandiford, 48 from Bolton, has worked on the motorways for 18 years. The married father-of-one is a site supervisor for Highways England contractor Balfour Beatty Mott MacDonald and is currently working nights at Switch Island. He said:

We get frequent incidents where drivers break through our road closures. Most are people who simply do not care and ignore the cones and signs that are installed to protect us.

We have enough to think about while getting the job done. What I and everyone else working, not just on this site but anywhere on the motorway network, can do without is the chance that we could get run over.

We’ve all got families and it only takes a second for someone to be hit by a vehicle that shouldn’t be there, and then that’s that person’s life and their family’s lives ruined.

On average there are nearly 300 incidents a week of road users driving into coned-off construction areas, risking the lives of road workers who are busy improving England’s 4,300 miles of motorways and major A roads. They included over 1,200 incidents in the North West alone during a three-month period last year.

Phil Tyrrell, Highways England Project Manager for the Switch Island scheme, said:

This is a complex engineering scheme which will result in much better journeys through the junction, and our road workers should be able to concentrate on the job they’re doing.

We’ve deliberately planned the project so that sections of the junction are only closed overnight when traffic levels are much lower, and clearly-signed diversions are in place to help drivers get to their destinations.

Drivers who selfishly and illegally ignore the closures to force their way through are putting both their lives and those of our road workers at risk – all to save a few minutes on their journeys.

The Switch Island improvement scheme includes changes to the road layout and lane markings, new barriers between carriageways, coloured high friction surfaces, better signs and a new 400 metre shared cycle path.

Airport-runway-style LED lights are also being installed in the road surface which will light up when traffic lights turn green so drivers can clearly see which lane they should follow.

And new signs will be displayed on three new gantries over the A5036 Dunnings Bridge Road, A59 Ormskirk Road and A5758 Brooms Cross Road to help drivers get into the correct lane to continue their journeys.

More details on the scheme are available via the project web page.

General enquiries

Members of the public should contact the Highways England customer contact centre on 0300 123 5000.

Media enquiries

Journalists should contact the Highways England press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer.

Published 21 May 2018