When the road leads to misery

I USED to think that only police officers had the authority to shut roads. But now it seems that any monkey in a hard hat, hi-viz jacket and a pair of workman’s breeks that displays his bottom-cleavage has the right to close the Queen’s Highway.

There was a time that roadworks had a man stationed at either end with a big lollipop that said STOP on one side and GO on the other. Okay, so one side of the road was closed from time to time, but the traffic still moved, the work was done, and there was no round-the-country detour for motorists.

Today, all you get is a crowd control barrier and a big sign that says “Road Closed”.

Having a couple of guys with stop and go signs is too much trouble. It’s easier just to shut the road. But easier for who?

Trying to get from A to B? Tough. Find another way that involves going through C, H and T to get there.

Once again, for example, the A70 in West Lothian was closed – as happens on an annual basis. It’s an arterial route used by busy people who are trying to run their businesses and get to work. And where are they diverted to? Along the narrow West Calder main street. Genius.

Just so show you how daft it all is, a few weeks ago a tiny stretch of a road in Somerset was closed, which resulted in a – get this – 47 mile detour for drivers.

I saw something similar in Fife recently, but angry drivers had simply torn down the road closed signs and tossed them into a field. (Amazingly, the workers were working on the pavement, not the road!)

What’s the betting that the roads are shut as a way of meeting health and safety guidelines, because cars travelling along a road pose a risk to the workers sleeping in their van. Or, sure, the guy down the hole will be safe, but the 12 blokes watching him at work might be mown down by a passing vehicle.

And, anyway, lunch breaks mean they don’t have two guys spare to work the stop and go lollipop signs.

Everywhere you go in West Lothian you’re faced with barriers and the familiar Road Closed signs – find alternate route.

It didn’t happen before. There’s no reason for it to happen now.