How to minimise traffic disruptions during construction projects

Traffic delays are a fact of life in Australia's infrastructure boom, but it's the duty of state and local governments and construction firms to minimise disruptions to the public as much as possible.

If you're about to start a road, bridge or utility project that involves working around traffic, follow these tips to reduce congestion, protect your workers and help everyone get where they need to be in good time.

Post warnings ahead of time

Unexpected roadworks cause people to be late for work, school and appointments, disrupt business and can literally mean life or death for patients using emergency services.

To make sure as many people as possible know about upcoming construction work, it's important to communicate this information in advance – preferably 1 to 2 weeks before work begins, as any longer and it can start to slip from memory. This gives people a chance to organise alternative routes or rearrange their schedules.

Putting up road signs is the simplest way to inform local motorists, but construction firms and local governments should also consider contacting the media, posting social media updates online and delivering letters to local residents.

Avoid peak traffic

One of the most effective ways to minimise your impact on traffic is to work around peak periods, such as the morning and early evening rush hours and holidays. This could mean asking your team to adjust to atypical hours, such as night work.

Shift changes and other interruptions should be scheduled to coincide with peak traffic, unless this causes problems. If roads need to be closed, you should consider the practicality of opening them temporarily during peak hours every day for as long as possible with a reduced speed limit and steel plates in place.

Train your team

Construction workers can't be expected to pull double duty as traffic controllers, but they need to be trained in how to work safely and efficiently around traffic if it's their first time. Untrained workers are at higher risk of causing traffic jams or even accidents.


Consider equipment carefully

When choosing equipment to hire for your project, don't only think about your budget. You should also aim to choose the most efficient and least obstructive construction vehicles that will help your job complete as quickly as possible and not hold up traffic.

Modern construction vehicles are available in a range of sizes, and smaller models such as a mini bobcat can be better suited to working around traffic than a full-size skid steer loader.

Provide temporary fixes

If you're digging up the road but cars still need to use it, you can keep the traffic flowing by fitting sturdy steel plates.

Available in a range of sizes from 2.4m x 1.2m to 6m x 2.4m and in various thicknesses, properly-fitted traffic plates maintain vehicle flow without causing any damage. They're also available in lightweight plastic.

As well as traffic, you can also help pedestrians to avoid roadwork disturbances and cross the street safely by setting up a temporary bridge. These are available in sizes up to 10.5m long and 4.5m wide and include hand rails for extra safety.

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