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Permission to temporarily manage traffic on the public highway

What is temporary traffic management?

All types of works and activities require traffic management in one form or another dependent on the nature of the works and/or the nature of the highway. Traffic management can vary between Chapter 8 signing and guarding, traffic controls or even full road closures. In all cases, traffic management must be sited, maintained and removed by qualified personnel and if unqualified, permit applicants should contract out this duty to organisations qualified and resourced to do so. The following legislation applies in the use of traffic management:

  • The Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 (as amended)
  • Road Traffic (Temporary Restrictions) Act 1991
  • The Street Works Regulations 1995 (Accreditation Units 1 and 2)
  • Traffic Signs Manual, Chapter 8 (as amended)
  • Department of Transport Departmental Standard TD 21/85 & TA 47/85
  • The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016

Where traffic management is sourced from a qualified organisation, full details must be disclosed on the application forms and the company must be registered with the Traffic and Network team . This company will be required to provide an up-to-date copy of accreditation and public liability insurance for £5 million which will be held on record.

Where traffic management is required in connection with works or a permitted activity, the reference number must be included on the application form.

Please note: the address/email for where to send the form to is on the form itself.

Please refer to the Fees and Charges webpage.

Events held on or affecting the Public Highway

There are many activities undertaken on our highways including works for utility companies, works to maintain the highway itself and events such as parades, markets, festivals and street parties. Additionally there are break downs, accidents and other incidents involving the emergency services where the road is closed at short notice.

The Traffic Management Act 2004 places a Duty on Traffic Authorities to manage their road network and secure the expeditious movement of traffic. Accordingly Staffordshire County Council, as the Highway Authority for the local highway network within Staffordshire, has formalised their process for the management of events that are held both on and off the highway and have an affect upon the highway and its users in order to minimise their impact on event visitors, the travelling public and local communities.

In order for an event to be successful and to enable event visitors to get to and from the event quickly and safely whilst causing the minimum disruption possible to themselves and others, we need to know about it. If we don’t know, we cannot provide advice and support, approve traffic management proposals and signing if required, or apply protections to those highways that will be affected to prevent other organisations causing delay or disruption to your event by digging up, or closing the road or holding their own events.

Specific Guidance in Relation to Emergency Traffic Management

At times it is necessary to implement emergency traffic controls or orders to either secure the safety of highway users or protect land/buildings/structures from an actual or imminent danger. In such cases, the Traffic and Network team must be contacted immediately so that not only the traffic management can be agreed but also to enable us to manage the network appropriately.

As a result of an emergency, we may be required to for example; inform emergency services, request other planned works are closed down temporarily to ease congestion and disruption, notify other departments within Staffordshire County Council or external organisations who may have an interest in the emergency (e.g. bridge owner, emergency services, bus operators, etc). The traffic management application can be dealt with at a convenient time after verbal notification and a retrospective permit will be issued.

Specific Guidance in Relation to Portable Traffic Signals

The placing of portable signals on the highway must be carried out in accordance with the Safety at Street Works Code of Practice to ensure safety to site personnel and without causing confusion to traffic.

All equipment must be in sound working order and power generators in particular should be as new as possible and maintained regularly to ensure noise is minimal. Signals use is highly disruptive to moving traffic and should be removed as soon as practicable and safe to do so.

Special conditions are often applied to permits stating specific hours of use and these must be adhered to. Should unforeseen circumstances result in signals being required outside of permitted times, the permit holder must contact the Traffic and Network team immediately. In cases where signals are permitted to remain in use for 24 hours a day, special conditions may be applied for the manual control of the phases in cases where traffic is likely to build in a specific direction and therefore automatic phasing must be overridden. At all times, a qualified operative must be available on site during working hours to manually control signals to assist the movement of emergency vehicles through an area of traffic control. In the event that the signals may fail, stop and go boards must also be available on site at all times.

The applicant is required to detail emergency contact information for both the permit holder and the traffic management supplier and it should be noted that both may be required to attend site out of hours to rectify faults and/or safety hazards. Traffic management suppliers will be contacted in the event that equipment is faulty and they should react immediately to any requests made by the highway authority and be prepared to take replacement equipment to site. Failed traffic signals are treated as dangerous and a 2 hour response is always required. Failure to attend within this time can result in further action by the highway authority and costs incurred are recoverable from the permit holder.

The above are also relevant for automated 'stop and go' boards however the use of these is not permitted outside working hours as site staff must always be available on site. If delays in work result in controls being required out of hours to maintain the safe passage of highway users, portable traffic signals must be deployed and the Traffic and Network team to be notified immediately.

Specific Guidance in Relation to 'Manual Stop and Go' Controls

The control of traffic by means of manual 'stop and go' boards must be carried out in accordance with the Safety at Street Works Code of Practice to ensure safety to site personnel and without causing confusion to traffic. Only qualified personnel can manage traffic and all sites must be risk assessed to ensure that site personnel will not be placed in danger from oncoming or passing traffic. If delays in work result in controls being required out of hours to maintain the safe passage of highway users, portable traffic signals must be deployed and the Traffic and Network team notified immediately.

Specific Guidance in Relation to Lane Closures on Dual Carriageways

The control of traffic by means of lane closures on dual carriageways must be carried out in accordance with Chapter 8 of the Traffic Signs Manual. Only qualified personnel can manage traffic and all sites must be risk assessed to ensure that site personnel will not be placed in danger from oncoming or passing traffic. The risk assessment must also cover the application and removal of the lane closure as all factors must be assessed to ensure that a safe method of working can be achieved prior to entry onto the carriageway. Generally lane closures will only be acceptable in daytime off-peak periods unless specific permission is obtained. If lane closures are required to operate 24hrs then signing and lighting must be installed in line with the requirements for operation in the hours of darkness.

Specific Guidance in Relation to Temporary Traffic Orders

A Temporary Traffic Regulation Order (TTRO) is made by the highway authority under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, as amended, when it is necessary to prohibit or control vehicular and / or pedestrian traffic along the highway. The highway authority can make a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order to cover planned situations, or we can issue a Temporary Notice if regulation is needed without delay.

Temporary traffic orders are very disruptive to traffic and should only be requested where absolutely necessary i.e. road closures should not be requested for the purpose of simply 'having free space to work'. Closures required on the grounds of safety either for site staff or highway users would be permitted and therefore sufficient detail must be provided on the application form.

Temporary Notices

Where urgent action is needed the highway authority may issue a temporary notice imposing a short-term closure or restriction. By the nature of the requirement, prior notice is not necessary.

The notice is limited to 21 days if there is a danger to the public or risk of serious damage to the road, persons or property, such as a leaking gas main. This emergency notice can be extended by one further notice of up to 21 days providing a maximum of 42 days in total. After such time, if a full traffic order has not been implemented and the restriction is still required Section 74 charges will apply. It is therefore imperative that sites requiring immediate restrictions are assessed to ascertain the likely duration in case a full traffic order will be required. This can then be applied for without delay and processing can commence allowing enough time to come into force before the end of the 42 day period.

The notice is limited to 5 days duration if there is no risk of danger or damage to the road, persons or property. There are no extensions to these notices and Section 74 charges will apply if the restriction is still required on day 6. The applicant must consider whether a 5 day duration is sufficient and if there is any doubt, a full traffic order should be applied for instead. In cases where an emergency notice is not required but a 5 day notice is applicable, it is preferable that two weeks notice is given to the Traffic and Network team, allowing enough to agree a diversion route, agree signage and provide some advance warning to affected properties.

Please note: it is entirely at the discretion of the highway authority as to whether a 5 day notice is appropriate or whether a full advertised order is required. The highway authority has the right to refuse a request for a temporary notice and may insist that a full advertised order is necessary.

With regards to street works (NRSWA), normally temporary notices would only be considered for minor works, as major (over 11 days duration) and standard works (4 - 10 days duration) should, by their nature, have sufficient time to process a full traffic order.

Temporary Orders

The highway authority is required to advertise its intention to implement a temporary traffic order within specific timescales and must notify various parties such as the emergency services and other traffic authorities. Traffic orders may remain in force for up to 18 months but this is limited to 6 months for footpaths, bridleways, cycle tracks and byways, open to all traffic.

On receipt of the application, the Traffic and Network team will assess the request and, in the case of closures and weight restrictions, will determine the appropriate diversion route and a suitable signage plan and schedule. The applicant is required to ensure that signs placed on the highway are correct and placed accurately so as to ensure traffic is not misled. The consequences of failing this requirement are significant for example; the misdirection of a heavy goods vehicle under a low bridge that then caused damage to the structure or at worst, harm or death. The permit holder would be held negligible in such a case and would be prosecuted by both the highway authority and possibly the Police.

As most traffic orders are disruptive it is imperative that the public is provided with sufficient warning of an impending order. The highway authority has powers to implement emergency orders by temporary notice but will always prefer a full temporary traffic order as full orders are advertised in the press. Advertisement of an impending order is a statutory requirement and the costs incurred in doing so are recharged to the applicant. Emergency orders are not advertised in the press although public notices are still required on site (see guidance in relation to emergencies).

Please note:

  • It is the responsibility of the applicant to carry out a letter drop to affected households and businesses.
  • The closure itself must be signed and diverted as per the original schedule and the closure must take place on the date given on the application.
  • If this is not the case, the Traffic and Network team must be notified and if agreed, signs on site must be amended accordingly.
  • If the closure is delayed by more than 5 days, the applicant must carry out a further letter drop.
  • If the closure is delayed by more than 28 days from the original date, a completely new application must be submitted. This will then have to be re-processed accordingly.

Further information and guidance

If you are unsure of the appropriate traffic order required, please email trafficandnetwork@staffordshire.gov.uk.

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