Friday, 17 October 2014


Amey have now answered some of my questions regarding the recent flooding in the Birchfield Road underpass which left many Oscott residents struggling to get to work and back for hours on end.

A34 Flooding – SOME ANWSERS

Q1. Why did it apparently take 8 hours between the West Midlands Police closing the underpass and Amey turning up?

Amey were notified of flooding on the A34 at Birchfield underpass at 20:35 on the 13th October 2014, and we attended immediately, and subsequently closed the road. We are not aware of such a significant passage of time between initial Police involvement and Amey’s response.

Q2. Why were West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service not called out to deal with the flooding, the gridlock around the area caused by this surely constituted a potential threat to life?

Amey were in contact with both West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service (WMFRS) and the City Council’s Emergency Planning Team through the incident. Amey’s senior operations team held discussions with WMFRS during the day and established that although the incident was causing significant disruption to traffic it did not pose a threat to life or endangering property. This situation was reviewed at 1730 on the 14th October 2014, when it became clear the water may take longer to clear, and a fire appliance was dispatched from Aston Fire Station. They attended site at 1930 (as it was still deemed a non-emergency incident) however by this time the static pumps were in operation again.

It should be noted Amey have made it clear to WMFRS that they are willing to pay for costs incurred in attending site.

Q3. Where were West Midlands Police and Amey traffic engineers to manually control the traffic and traffic signals to help ease congestion?

Birmingham Highways (Amey working in partnership with Birmingham City Council) operate an Urban Traffic Control System from the Control Centre in 1 Lancaster Circus. This enables us to manually alter and control traffic signal timings across the strategic routes. Having been made aware of the incident at the start of the shift on the 14th the Urban Traffic Control Centre began manual intervention via the Urban Traffic Control System at 07:15, and continued through until the incident ceased at 21:15.

Q4. Why wasn't parking prohibited outside Greggs and the other shops on Birchfield Road, which as a consequence all traffic had to squeeze into one lane?

Unfortunately such short term restrictions are not effective, and in accordance with the applicable regulations would not have been enforceable.

Q5. You seem convinced by what Amey have said, namely faulty pump or failed power to the pump. There is a suggestion that it was the flood water that caused the power outage that meant the pump failed, has that not been considered?

The exact cause of the pump failure has now been identified as an interruption in the Distribution Network Operator’s (otherwise known as the Western Power Distribution, the local electricity company) supply. This was confirmed at 1730.

Obviously the volume and depth of water made accessing the pumping station impossible until the water level dropped. Until this time any potential identification of the issue or issues was speculation, one avenue being explored through the day was that flooding had damaged the electrical circuits, but this has since been proved incorrect.

Q6. What action was taken to inform the traveling public of the incident?

Traffic and Travel media were made aware of the road closure in the early morning of Tuesday 14th October and these reports were being distributed throughout the rush hour on local radio. Throughout the incident, media statements and updates were provided to local print, broadcast and online media channels. In addition to this, ahead of the afternoon rush hour, a communications strategy was implemented which included scheduling media interviews and issuing travel advice bulletins to Business Improvement Districts, major employment centres and other stakeholders so that the messages could be distributed to employees planning their journeys home.

In an emergency reactive situation, it is difficult to influence significant enough behavioural change for this to help mitigate the traffic pressure however substantial efforts were made to help keep both the travelling public and the local media updated with the latest information.


Thanks again to those who asked the questions about this issue.


No comments: