Seafront's 'wiggly' line road markings that cost £1.5m to be scrapped

The road markings in Clevedon, North Somerset, led to an uproar among the locals as drivers were left confused.

The wiggly lines confused drivers. (SWNS)
The wiggly lines confused drivers. (SWNS)

Bizarre 'wiggly lines' marked on a picturesque seafront road are finally being removed - bringing the total cost of the works to more than £1.5m.

The infamous wiggly lines have been criticised by locals since appearing on the seafront in Clevedon, Somerset in January last year. Photos showed road markings weaving around - leaving drivers and cyclists confused over where to go.

Locals protested against the new road markings. (SWNS)
Locals protested against the new road markings. (SWNS)

They went viral, sparking a long campaign and North Somerset Council has now voted to have them removed - at an additional cost of £425,000. The budget for the seafront scheme was originally £201,000 but ballooned to £1.3M.

However, the decision to scrap the markings is bad news for local sailors and rowers as £50,000 earmarked for vital repairs to the town's ancient slipway has been diverted to fund the work.

The road markings were meant to make it easy to distinguish between pedestrian, cycle and car sections. (SWNS)
The road markings were meant to make it easy to distinguish between pedestrian, cycle and car sections. (SWNS)

Clevedon Sailing Club fears the loss of cash will mean the slipway could be washed away and end centuries of boating at the Victorian seaside resort. Despite the original plan being to increase road safety in the area, the 400 metres of weaving lines had baffled both drivers and cyclists.

At the time the council said the lines were meant to reduce parking issues "and help make the road feel narrower, which is a technique used to slow traffic speeds."

North Somerset Council was met with heavy criticism, as locals staged a 'conga line' protest in fancy dress amidst widespread ridicule of the project. Now, the extra taxpayer funds are needed to revert the bizarre road markings.

At the Executive Committee on 27 March 27, Cllr Hannah Young said: "We have got to be really clear, in any schemes that we do going forward, that we are getting them as right as possible in respect of aspects of safety, and the multi-users in particular areas.

The cost of removing the markings will eat into other parts of the Council's budget. (SWNS)
The cost of removing the markings will eat into other parts of the Council's budget. (SWNS)

"I think that is complex and I think there has been learning in this for everyone."

She said that it was "phenomenally difficult" to find a scheme that allowed all types of road users to operate safely together.

Council leader Cllr Mike Bell said: "Does this mean that we will get everything right, that this is going to be perfect and that this is the ideal solution for Clevedon seafront?

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"I guarantee you that it will not be because we are never going to be perfect. But are we doing it with the right intentions?

"Absolutely we are."

North Somerset MP Sir Liam Fox recently blamed the authority for mishandling the controversial road works. He said: "Clevedon Sailing Club are just one of the groups in North Somerset who are paying the price for the incompetent management of the seafront.

Many locals found the whole thing baffling. (SWNS)
Many locals found the whole thing baffling. (SWNS)

"A project that nobody wanted has massively overrun its budget and now funds are being redirected from other areas to fill the gap. What a disgraceful state of affairs. Who at North Somerset Council will carry the can?"

Why can roadworks be so expensive?

There has been a lot of political focus on the extreme cost of infrastructure in the UK in recent years, especially after the government cancelled the northern leg of HS2 due to ballooning costs.

At the time HS2 was costing £165m per mile, more than twice what it costs to build high-speed rail in Italy and 3.7 times more expensive than France’s high-speed link between Tours and Bordeaux, according to Sam Dumitrui, Head of Policy at Britain Remade. When it comes to road building and maintenance the UK is slightly more on par with peer nations but it is still 23% more expensive to lay the tarmac in Britain and in France.

Dumitrui notes the power of 'Not In My Backyard' campaigners in the rising costs of carrying out any infrastructure work in the UK. With councils often expecting organised resistance to many of their plans the amount of detailed planning required to get any project over the line has ballooned, and then subsequent legal challenges to the plans delay contractors and require the payment of lawyers.

All of these delays add up, not only does inflation not stop as plans are often put on hold for years but local authorities often keep contractors nominally employed so they can start whenever permission is granted all adding to the costs.

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