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Roadwork Capitals

Jamie C, 
Wednesday, 03 November 2021
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Roadworks play a vital role in maintaining the infrastructure of the country by making sure traffic can run smoothly and safely throughout the land.

Nevertheless, they can still be a massive source of frustration to road users as they can cause lengthy delays and disruption to a vast number of people.

It can cost a lot of money to buy a car or have car finance, and unfortunately due to roadworks, it is often not a smooth drive into the sunset once you’re on the road.

On average it is estimated that UK motorists lose 28 hours a year due to being stuck in traffic caused by roadworks, and almost everyone in the country has been impacted by them at some point.

Even small works in the UK can feel like they take an eternity compared to other countries.

For example, in 2016 a major road in the Japanese city of Fukuoka was completely destroyed by a massive 15-meter deep sinkhole, this was completely repaired and reopened in six days.

Meanwhile, it is very hard to find a town in Britain that is not littered with long term potholes as there were 1.1 million of them recorded in 2016.

Not all areas of the country have the same level of roadworks, and to determine where in the country is best for uninterrupted drives we have launched an in-depth data-driven study into the areas with the most frequent and recent incidents of road and street works. By sending Freedom of Information requests to local authorities around the country, the roadwork capitals of the UK have been revealed.

Top Three Roadwork Capitals

herefordshire roadwork capital
sheffield second roadwork capital
birmingham third roadwork capital

1. Herefordshire: 105,614 roadworks in the past two years

The west English county of Herefordshire has seen the most road and street works undertaken in the past two years by the council and utilities. With over 100,00 it is the only council area of any type in the country with a six-figure number of roadwork projects. Furthermore, it is almost 90,000 more than the national average for the same period.

2. Sheffield: 84,587 roadworks in the past two years

Sheffield had just under 85,000 separate roadworks in the past two years which makes it the roadwork capital city of the country. Within the city council boundaries of the Steel City, there were 44,677 roadworks in 2020/21, the longest of which took 19 days to complete. This is slightly higher than in 2019/20 when 39,910 works were carried out.

3. Birmingham: 79,538 roadworks in the past two years

Birmingham is the largest city council area with a population of almost 1 million more people than Sheffield, however, when it comes to roadworks there were 5,049 fewer roadworks in the second city over the past two years. This is largely due to a 36% decrease in the number of roadworks taking place in Birmingham in 2020/21 than there had been the previous year.

Top three areas with least amount of roadworks

midlothian least roadworks
torbay 2nd least roadworks
shetland islands 3rd least roadworks

1. Midlothian: 49 roadworks in the past two years

The area of the UK with the fewest number of roadworks over the past two years is Midlothian in Scotland, which covers an area from south Edinburgh to the Borders. Incredibly there were only 49 recorded road and street works in the period, which is only 0.05% of the number of roadworks in Herefordshire.

2. Torbay: 169 roadworks in the past two years

Torbay is a small council area on the south coast of Devon in South West England, where driving is clearly stress-free for the seasiders as there were only 169 recorded roadworks in the past two years. The longest of these works lasted 86 days at Babbacombe Road for resurfacing.

3. Shetland Islands: 214 roadworks in the past two years

From one end of the country to the other, the Shetlands are the most northern point of the UK, 110 miles from the top of the mainland. In the past two years, Shetlanders have been able to enjoy pleasant driving as there have only been 214 separate roadworks in place across the island.

Areas with the biggest increase in roadworks in the past year

county durham biggest roadwork increase
staffordshire 2nd biggest roadwork increase
south tyneside 3rd biggest roadwork increase

1. County Durham: 2063% increase

2019/20 – 628 roadworks

2020/21 – 13,581 roadworks

In County Durham, there has been an astronomical rise in the number of roadworks in the past year, as the total number shot up by almost 13,000. According to Durham County Council, this is due to the coronavirus pandemic delaying a large number of works so they did not begin until 2020/21.

 

2. Staffordshire: 2052% increase

2019/20 – 1,126 roadworks

2020/21 – 24,226 roadworks

Staffordshire has the second-highest increase in the number of recorded roadworks, in 2019/20 there was just over 1,000, whereas in 2020/21 there were almost 25,000 road and street works recorded by the council.

 

3. South Tyneside: 1493% increase

2019/20 – 305

2020/21 – 4,859

One of the longest ongoing works on South Tyneside were bridge repairs that are scheduled to take eight months. Along with this are an extra 4,554 more roadworks than in the previous year.

Areas with the biggest decrease in roadworks in the past year

north northamptonshire biggest roadwork decrease
rhondda cynon taf 2nd biggest roadwork decrease
blackpool 3rd biggest roadwork decrease

1. North Northamptonshire: 77% decrease

2019/20 – 14,147

2020/21 – 3,185

The biggest decrease in the number of roadworks occurred in north Northamptonshire, therefore residents have had the biggest easing of roadwork related driving problems anywhere in the country.

 

2. Rhondda Cynon Taf: 67% decrease

2019/20 – 424

2020/21 – 138

The South Wales area of Rhondda Cynon Taf has seen the second-biggest decrease in the number of roadworks from 2019/20 to 2020/21. Two years ago there were 424 separate roadworks, decreasing by 67% to 138 in the last year.

 

3: Blackpool: 66% decrease

2019/20 – 582

2020/21 – 195

The only thing dropping faster than those riding the ‘Big One’ in Blackpool is the frequency of roadworks in the coastal Lancashire town. There was a 66% decrease from 582 separate roadworks in 2019/20 to 195 in 2020/21.

Methodology

  • All the data was collected by sending FOIs to councils across the UK requesting: “Under the Freedom of Information Act, I would like to request the number of street works and road works carried out by the council for both the 2019/20 and 2020/21 financial years. If possible, I would also like to know the longest-running works that took place in both of these periods.”
  • Out of 395 councils that the request was sent to, 244 did not respond, declined the request, or sent unusable data.
  • This left 151 councils that were ranked by the total number of roadworks over the past two years.
  • We then calculated the difference between the number of roadworks in both 2019/20 and 2020/21.
Jamie C,
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