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  • 2014-09-10T01:00:00Z on BBC Two
  • 60 mins
  • 4 hours, 0 mins
  • Documentary

Documentary series following the workers who keep the traffic flowing on one of the busiest stretches of road in Britain, where the country's longest motorway, the M6, meets four other major routes.

4 episodes

1x01 Weight of Traffic

  • Series Premiere

    2014-09-10T01:00:00Z — 60 mins

For the last six years, there has been a succession of roadworks on this stretch of the motorway resulting in a string of complaints from Jim who has the Highways Agency number permanently 'logged in his phone'. With the latest roadworks again scheduled during the night when the motorway is at its quietest, Jim knows what to expect - 'you start seeing orange lights flashing and at 3 and 4 in the morning it's disco time'. For Alan, the noise of the roadworks outside his home is 'like a war game' and he ponders whether his next move is to call the 24-hour hotline or email his local MP. A few doors down, Jim has armed himself with a decibel meter to record the sound levels in the hope that someone will realise how 'unbearable' the disruption is. Meanwhile, Jim and Alan are not the only ones having sleepless nights as the safety inspectors working the graveyard shift go on the lookout for heavy-freight truckers breaking the rules and a team of workers carry out the repairs to a four-mile stretch of the M6.

1x02 Keeping the Show on the Road

  • 2014-09-17T01:00:00Z — 60 mins

In January 2003, on a day known as White Friday, an enormous snowstorm brought the M11 motorway to a standstill and left drivers stranded in their cars for 18 hours. In the media storm that followed, the Highways Agency (HA) was heavily criticised for failing to prepare for snow and ice. Since that day, the HA have invested in a dedicated team of national traffic officers and motorway maintenance workers ready to react to weather events and deal with incidents. This episode follows the teams working on the M6 and surrounding motorways as they face one of the stormiest winters on record. On average, the HA spends £1.2 million on salt every year in the West Midlands to prevent the region's major roads from grinding to a halt. But despite planning for snow and ice, instead they find themselves facing the stormiest winter in over 40 years and the wettest winter in 250 years. It's all hands on deck and with the Highways Agency's reputation at stake, desperate times require desperate measures. Away from the storm, the motorway maintenance incident support unit are on their winter litter-picking patrols, adding to the 180,000 bags of rubbish collected on Britain's motorways. And underneath the Spaghetti Junction, a hidden workforce tries to restore the iconic structure to its former glory.

1x03 The Need for Speed

  • 2014-09-24T01:00:00Z — 60 mins

Highways Agency staff scour 450 CCTV cameras for problems on the M6, while Steve Taylor travels along the motorway at a steady 50mph on the lookout for potentially dangerous potholes. The programme also follows the work of the Central Motorway Police Group, accompanying PCs Mark Crozier and Karl Davies as they respond to an incident in which someone has died after jumping from a bridge onto the carriageway in the early hours of a Saturday morning

1x04 No Such Thing As an Accident

  • 2014-10-01T01:00:00Z — 60 mins

Every year in Britain there are an estimated 250,000 road traffic collisions. It is a widely held theory amongst those working on the motorway that there is no such thing as an accident - usually something or someone is to blame. This episode takes a look at the work of the Highways Agency, motorway police and other agencies who are making Britain's motorways safer and also explores the environmental, economic and emotional costs of accidents that occur on Britain's motorways. Catthorpe Junction is a major interchange linking the M1 and A14 to the start of the M6. Its outdated road layout has witnessed a number of road traffic collisions in the last few years but now it's about to be redesigned to make it safer and less congested, all to the tune of over £190 million. Overseeing the work is construction manager Mark Sutton, but it's not just a case of building a road. With the roadworks taking place on 78 acres of newly acquired farmland nestled amongst rural villages, Mark and his team have to ensure locals are happy, including the local wildlife. A protected colony of great crested newts needs to be relocated way from the works. This is a lengthy and expensive process and the cost of relocating each newt could run into thousands of pounds. Meanwhile out on the road, the Central Motorway Police Group patrol the motorway in their unmarked lorry, spying on drivers who fall afoul of the law. The Highways Agency and maintenance teams cope with the aftermath of an overturned lorry that has spilled its cargo of milk onto the carriageway, threatening to contaminate a local watercourse.

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