To avoid disappointment: simulate
I am currently working in Brentwood, and started driving there in September 2010. I take the South Circular, hit the A2, then take the Dartford Tunnel and M25, coming off at Junction 29. Same route home, opting for the QEII Bridge rather than the tunnel for safety reasons. Interesting, I hear you say.
Throughout the time during which I’ve commuted by car, roadworks have beset the stretch of the M25 between the bridge/tunnel and Junction 29. This is because of a road-widening programme that the Highways Agency undertook, giving each carriageway four instead of three lanes between J27 and J30.
Throughout the programme, cameras were set up limiting drivers to 50mph throughout the stretch of roadworks. The journey was smooth, but frustratingly throttled. The work was eventually completed, and the roadworks and cameras disappeared over the weekend of 26/27 May, leaving four lanes of beautiful 70mph road.
The journey that morning of Monday 28 May was sublime. Coming out of the Dartford Tunnel, it was a pleasant surprise to see the removal of the roadworks and the restrictions, and my journey to J29 was all the more joyous and quick as a result.
But the journey home was far less pleasing. The initial stretch of the M25 on joining at J29 was lovely: quick and trouble-free. But then the delightful new digital displays reduced the speed limit to 50mph; then to 40mph. Shortly thereafter, while these limits remained, they were surplus to requirements, as we nudged along the beautiful new tarmac.
And on each of my five subsequent commutes, things have been pretty much the same. The jam kicks in a little earlier or later. But it’s always been there thus far. Tonight’s jam nigh on doubled my regular journey time.
You see, while the M25 has been gloriously widened, the QEII bridge remains the same width as before (also four lanes, but with a slower, 50mph limit), and there remain 17 toll booths through which cars can pass.
The aperture of the egg-timer (the toll booths) remains the same. But the top half of the egg-timer (the clockwise M25 north of the crossing) has been widened. The end result is that the bottom half (the clockwise M25 south of the crossing) sees almost no change.
I’m hoping that my diagnosis is wrong, but I fear it’s not. And if true, it’s a problem and a nine-digit expense that some basic upfront simulation might have avoided.
[Hands up who misread the title of this post.]