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Baker Street Two-Way Phase 2

Description of Works
Home to one of England’s most-loved fictional detectives and the famous waxworks of Madame Tussauds, the iconic roads of Baker Street, Gloucester Place and Marylebone Road draw in visitors from around the world.  The streets had been suffering from high levels of congestion, partly as a result of their one-way traffic system.  

Over the past two years, FM Conway has been working with Westminster City Council and Transport for London (TfL) to convert the roads into a two-way system to improve the flow of traffic and provide a better experience for road users and pedestrians. Following the successful completion of phase one, including major reconstruction and realignment works at a total of 44 junctions along both Baker Street and Gloucester Place, the team set out to complete phase two of the programme.

Services used on this project Highways Maintenance
Challenges and Solutions

Matt Cerrone, Senior Contracts Manager at FM Conway, explains: 
“When converting a one-way system to two-way traffic it’s vital that the final reconfiguration of the road network – such as updating traffic signals, installing new road signs and markings, and creating two-way junctions happens all in one go.  If a piecemeal approach is taken, there’s a higher risk of road users misunderstanding where the one-way system starts and stops.  As such, the new two-way system in Marylebone needed to be opened all at once.” 

Prior to the final phase of works, FM Conway was in constant dialogue with Westminster City Council and TfL.  Matt continues: “Closing down over two miles of central London roads simultaneously is no mean feat and choosing the right weekend to carry out these works was essential.  

“A lot of the final stage jobs we had to carry out – like laying road markings – require dry conditions, so we needed a sunny forecast before we committed.  We also monitored forthcoming public events to ensure the works didn’t clash with larger-than-normal crowds in the city centre.” 


At one point we had over 60 traffic management operatives on site – the most we’ve had working on a project at one time since FM Conway played its part in the 2012 Olympics!

Matt Cerrone - Senior Contracts Manager at FM Conway

In preparation for the weekend shutdown, FM Conway’s employees meticulously practised different stages of the programme to understand how long would be needed for each section, carrying out as much preparatory work as possible to streamline the process.  

Matt continues: “The term maintenance team installed over 100 road signs in advance of the works.  These signs would eventually direct the traffic following the switch to two-way running.  To avoid any confusion before this point, the signs were covered with stickers which would be removed during the final steps of the switchover.  We needed to test how long this would take so that we could factor it into our schedule and synchronise the different teams on site.”      


Delivering Innovation

Once the weekend was agreed it was all systems go.  FM Conway’s Westminster term maintenance, water and drainage management, road markings and traffic management teams were on the clock to deliver the conversion in 62 hours, drawing on their multiple expertise to meet the logistical and operational challenge.

“We started closing the roads on Thursday night followed by further closures on Friday and Saturday and needed to have the network back up and running for two-way traffic by Sunday morning,” explains Matt. “This meant that all teams had to be closely coordinated, working together to meet the deadline.  At one point we had over 60 traffic management operatives on site – the most we’ve had working on a project at one time since FM Conway played its part in the 2012 Olympics!”

FM Conway needed to remove existing road markings before adding new linings for two-way traffic.  The business’ water and drainage management team used four specialist Hydroblasters to strip off the old markings with the vehicles’ high-pressure water jetting systems.  The Hydroblaster operators worked to an exacting timetable, ensuring the road could dry before the lining team instated the new markings.  The rest of the practised signage sequencing then followed on.     

The teams’ attention to detail and cooperation paid off.  By 10.30am on Sunday morning, Baker Street, Gloucester Place and Marylebone Road were back open – but now to two-way traffic, making it easier for road users, pedestrians and fans of famous detectives to navigate these iconic London streets.