The schedule of destruction
The Schedule of Destruction #
It is important to recognise the various stages of roadbuilding to prepare to fight it. After the political decision to build the road has been announced, the first stage will be awarding of the preliminary contracts. (NB. A generalised sequence of a contract award is described in Chapter 7.) The roadbuilding agency will be busy trying to let these contract(s), so now is the time to attempt to sabotage the contracts procedure - see Chapter 10 for ideas.
Around this time, people along the route who have had their properties or land bought under Compulsory Purchase laws will be sent a "Notice to Treat" or similar, giving notice of the earliest date work can start on their property. Get to know these people! Don't use "Notice to Treat" dates as definate, as each only covers a single parcel of land, not the whole route and work can also start well after issue of the Notice.
It is also essential to watch and monitor the route of the road as closely as possible, as this is the time when hostile activity often starts. In particular, look for surveying, vehicles snooping around the route, and sneaky tree-felling (see 'Route Monitoring" in Chapter 8). Because preliminary contracts are usually relatively low in cost and short, it's often hard to discover what's going on with them until the last minute - especially as there may be several. Whilst trying to find out as much as possible from tip-offs, sources in the construction industry etc, the best approach is surely to monitor the route as well as you can, and prepare to stop work if it starts. Now is the time to study, in detail, maps and plans of the road. Preliminary works is the most destructive period, and may include tree-felling, building demolition, drainage, road diversions, earthworks, and some construction; there may also be ecological or archaeological "rescue" contracts.
The main works contract(s) may start soon after the preliminary works, or there may be a delay of months while the contract letting procedures continue. It is a huge advantage if you can find out the start date! When main works do start, it's likely that one of the first jobs of the contractors will be to establish compounds and / or fenced areas of the route. (Of course preliminary works may also have involved some fencing.) Once contractors have thus secured their working space, they'll start getting on with work alarmingly quickly if you let them. The exact order of main works will vary depending on the complexity of the contract. To work out what's going on, remember that everything will be programmed to be completed together, so long jobs like building large flyovers are likely to start relatively early; see the Appendix for an example of a work schedule. Earthmoving is also likely to be started fairly early, especially if there's a lot of stuff to shift; however, it needs to be done between March and October to avoid the worst of the weather. The contractors should inform local residents of the general order of work. The job ends with laying the tarmac, signing and building barriers and roadside fences, tree-planting etc, and finally, the opening ceremony...