Category Archives: Highway Maintenance

ROAD MAINTENANCE SAFETY HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT AWARDS ANNOUNCED

The winners of the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA) 2017 Safety Health and Environment Awards have been announced.

The awards recognise health and safety best practice and environmental innovation for one of the most dangerous work spaces: live roads. The four categories include Health and Safety Innovation, Workforce Involvement, Behavioural Safety and Environmental Innovation. They were judged by Ray Cooke, head of construction safety unit at the Health and Safety Executive, and sponsored by Nynas Bitumen.

First prize for Health and Safety Innovation went to Multihog UK Limited for the development of its Multihog machine. The fixture of a road planer attachment, development of front and rear sweeper attachments together with a 400 litre water tank for dust suppression has resulted in an innovative multi-purpose road repair machine that removes worker exposure to hand arm vibration syndrome, suppresses on-site dust and reduces noise levels to 82dBa compared to readings of 109dBa for traditional jackhammer methods. In addition, the machine offers significant productivity and efficiency savings. Of the developed and enhanced machine, Howard Robinson, RSTA Chief Executive said: “Multihog have shown how to reinvent traditional methods of surface treatment into something that is innovative and superior offering a win:win of both health and safety benefits plus productivity gains.”

Second prize for the Health and Safety Innovation category was awarded to Asphalt Grid Systems for its improvements to the loading and unloading of asphalt geosynthetic materials, some of which can weight up to 130kgs each, to reduce the potential hazard of back and arm injuries.

WJ Products Limited won first prize for the Workforce Involvement category. To encourage a culture of safety and best practice, WJ products have implemented a sos@wj.uk email system to capture site incidents and practice information. The system recognises that the most qualified group of people able to identify and advise of safety improvement opportunities is the workforce who actually carry out the day-to-day operations. Such close involvement of the workforce has seen ongoing improvements in the company’s WJ Guardian system for road stud installation which has resulted in a 100% elimination of operative injuries whilst installing road studs, and a further 20% reduction of overall accident/incident rates. Above all, there has been the establishment of a culture of individual responsibility which has led to improved teamwork. “WJ Products are to be congratulated on their realisation of a company’s most important resource: the experience and input of its workforce,” said Robinson.

Eurovia Specialist Treatments was awarded second prize in this category for its programme to improve communications and engagement with its transient workers via regular team site Meetings, team site briefings and safety tours. This has seen a significant improvement in the company’s overall health and safety culture.

The Behavioural Safety category was won by LKAB Minerals Ltd. The company recognized that it is the behaviour of the workforce that determines whether or not injuries occur. With this in mind, LKAB introduced Visible Felt Leadership techniques to its sites. Trained personnel undertake ‘safety walks’ of sites to review the health and safety issues, discuss potential hazards and solutions with operatives and encourage commitment to safer working. Since the introduction of the safety walks the number of harm incidents has reduced by over 70%. There has been an increased openness which has seen the visitors undertaking the walks being actively welcomed and approached as operatives feel encouraged to provide feedback. “LKAB Minerals have implemented a culture of empowerment and openness that encourages the workforce to identify the potential problem and to propose the answer. To install such behaviour is key if accidents are to be prevented”, said Robinson.

Second prize for Behavioural Safety went to Tayside Contracts for its novel Safety and Health Awareness Day held as an enacted trial in a real court, the No. 1 Courtroom, Perth. Complete with defendant, legal team and jury the enactment demonstrated the potential legal ramifications and underlined the message that prevention is better than cure.

WJ Products Limited won a further first prize for winning the Environmental Innovation category for its innovation to reduce omissions. The development of a 3-boiler bank for placing white, yellow and red road markings reduces the need for two separate site visits. This effectively reduces vehicle movements, and the corresponding CO2 and particle emissions, by 50%. Eliminating the need for a second site visit also increases productivity and reduces the on-site work-related road risk.  Robinson commented: “Poor urban air quality is becoming a major issue. This simple yet effective innovation has seen WJ Products cut its on-site emissions by half.”

Kiely Brothers and Total Bitumen were awarded second prize for their joint initiative to reduce the potential for accidental spraying or spillage of bitumen emulsion when it is transferred from tankers to sprayers. Their ‘Safe Transfer of Emulsion’ passport scheme saw the development and implementation of a new set of delivery rules that has resulted in zero spill incidents.

“The welfare of workers and of the environment are paramount considerations. The RSTA awards celebrate the ongoing programmes of improvement being implemented by the road surface sector to ensure that its workforce is safe and that its impact on the environment is managed and reduced”, said Robinson. “The RSTA members who have been recognized by these awards are to be congratulated for their ability to think ‘outside the box’ to deliver initiatives that really work and for their willingness to share their developments for the good of the sector as a whole.”

HOWARD COOKE APPOINTED RSTA CHAIRMAN

Howard Cooke, Managing Director of Asphalt Reinforcement Services Ltd, has been appointed as Chairman of the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA).

Howard has been working in the highway maintenance industry for 30 years. He started his career with Colas and Associated Asphalt before starting his own business 15 years ago with Asphalt Reinforcement Services Ltd. The business has developed as a successful SME and was one of the first to gain QCF NVQ qualifications for the installation of geosynthetics and steel meshes through the RSTA Assessment Centre and now has CE mark accreditation for All-In Surface Dressing. Howard has a close association with the RSTA having chaired the geosynthetics and steel meshes sector for five years during which time the geosynthetics and steel meshes Code of Practice was endorsed by ADEPT and brought to market.

Of his appointment, Howard said: “It is a great privilege to be taking on the role of Chairman of the RSTA. I look forward to working with the RSTA team and member companies in advancing the road maintenance industry.”

In particular, Howard set out two main objectives: “I would like to encourage more local authority and design companies to participate with the RSTA. With the demise of the intelligent client, it is becoming increasingly important to collaborate with client bodies. It is also important for the RSTA to reinforce the message to Government for properly maintained roads. With our membership we have a collective industry voice that can make progress in bidding for improved highway maintenance funding.”

Howard Cooke 1

NEW ROAD INDUSTRY CODE OF PRACTICE FOR GROUTED MACADAM SURFACING

A new industry Code of Practice for Grouted Macadam Surfacing has been published by the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA). It forwards industry best practice and has been peer reviewed and endorsed by ADEPT, the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport.

Grouted Macadam surfacing is used to re-profile and strengthen the road surface – thereby providing improved texture, skid resistance and prevention of water ingress.  It offers an alternative to standard asphalt and macadam surface courses.

There are two main types of Grouted Macadam surfacing – those grouted with an asphaltic grout and those with a cementitious grout.  Both provide impervious finishes with an extended service life.

Asphaltic Grouted Macadam consists of a hot, paver laid, open-graded asphalt, purposefully designed receiving course, laid to a depth of between 30mm and 50mm, which is then sealed with an asphaltic grout.  It provides an impervious surface course, combatting water ingress with the flexibility to withstand underlying movement.  The sealing of the surface course also prevents fretting, reduces the speed of binder oxidation and reinforces the strength and elastic stiffness of the surface course.  The material is ideally suited to the resurfacing of flexible or concrete rural and residential highways.

Cementitious Grouted Macadam consists of a hot, paver laid, open-graded asphaltic, purposefully designed receiving course, typically laid to a nominal depth of between 35mm and 50mm with a controlled void content which is subsequently filled with a resin cementitious grout.  This provides a hybrid between asphalt and concrete with fast installation, minimal downtime and a resulting stiffness that falls between concrete and conventional bituminous surfacing materials. It has a high heat resistance and is therefore less temperature susceptible than traditional bituminous materials. A flexible, jointless, heavy-duty surface course, it is capable of withstanding intense traffic loadings and fuel / leachate contamination to minimise rutting or deformation. This material is ideally suited to the surfacing of high-stress areas.

The new code underlines the need for careful consideration of a wide range of details, to plan and design the work carefully and to use only HAPAS (or equivalent) approved installers certificated to BS EN ISO 9001:2008 / 9001:2015 and National Highways Sector Scheme 16.  As there is no British Standard design criteria for Grouted Macadams it is important for the client to satisfy himself that the contractor has sufficient knowledge and experience, that the product is suitably established and has been adequately tested and approved to perform as expected, and that it has demonstrated the durability required to meet the necessary service life.

The health and safety, environment, training and quality assurance responsibilities of client and contractor are set out by the code. It also provides guidance on site planning, programming, co-ordination and traffic management.  A useful inclusion is the pre-contract, on-site and post-contract check-lists.

Copies of the Code of Practice for Grouted Macadam Surfacing may be downloaded from the RSTA website: www.rsta-uk.org/publications

RSTA INDUSTRY CONFERENCE REPORT: THE NEW RULES

The theme of this year’s Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA) industry conference was ‘The New Rules’. However, the conference also proved that the old problems resulting from the lack of investment in road maintenance are getting worse.

John Paterson, Atkins, opened the conference by highlighting how the rules concerning road maintenance were changing by outlining the new UK code of practice for highway authorities, ‘Well-managed highway infrastructure’, which has been published by the UK Roads Liaison Group (UKRLG). The new code supersedes three previous codes, ‘Well-maintained highways’, ‘Well-lit highways’ and ‘Management of highway structures’. These are now rationalized into one document.

The main change is the move away from the reliance on specific guidance and recommendations to a risk-based approach to be determined by each local authority following analysis of local needs, priorities and affordability. In addition, the code calls for a consistent approach based on collaboration between all authorities and alliances, both local and strategic. To back this up, authorities are encouraged to develop appropriate records and make a detailed inventory of highway assets. They are also encouraged to consider the adoption of new and emerging technologies in order to driver greater efficiency. Although not statutory, highway authorities are expected to have fully signed-up and implemented the new risk-based approach by October 2018.

And the benefits of this new approach? Paterson believes them to be strengthened and better asset management, increased efficiencies, improved accountability based on evidence, empowered highway authorities meeting local needs, and importantly, support for making the case for funding.

The need for rationalization is also behind the review and updating of the ‘Design Manual for Roads and Bridges’. First published in 1992 the manual comprises over 300 documents, over half of which are additional advice notes.

Arash Khojinian of Highways England explained that the revision of the manual will forward the drivers of safety, efficiency, environmental input and affordability – both initial and whole life cost. Importantly, the new manual will encourage innovation as it will move away from prescriptive to performance-based standards. The manual will continue to set out the requirements for the UK motorway and all-purpose trunk road network only.

Khojinian underlined the importance of this review as part of the undertaking for when in 2015 the Highways Agency became Highways England, a government-owned company. This called for the review of DMRB “to reduce the number of prescriptive standards and increase the number of performance standards, in line with industry best practice, and thereby reduce the number of departures from standards.” Importantly, the new DMRB will place responsibility for design justification with the supply chain designer. It will provide advice to support professional decision making. Above all, the new DMRB will enable Highways England to meet the challenges of balancing priorities against demands, innovation versus risk and ensuring collaboration for mutual benefit.

The timescale is tight as the manual is due to be updated by March 2020 and this includes one year when the draft will be submitted to Europe for approval.

Owen Jenkins, Oxfordshire County Council, gave the local authority response to the new rules against a background of considerable financial pressure. Increasingly, local authorities are having to balance funding the needs of the vulnerable against providing the essentials versus financing the ‘nice to haves’. The funding of social care and refuse collection means less investment in road maintenance as unfortunately rising social care costs means that a road surface in good condition is seen as a ‘nice to have’. To illustrate his point, Jenkins reported that local authority spend as a percentage of national GDP is at its lowest since 1948.

Oxfordshire has addressed the financial pressures by making cost savings of £300 million with a further £77 million to come. The County Council is concentrating on delivering simpler and better services that are more local at lower cost. Jenkins hopes that Oxfordshire, by being part of the England’s Economic Heartland initiative, will attract growth in council and business tax via a growth in new homes and businesses.

He welcomed the new guidance provided by the new ‘Well-managed highways infrastructure’, as being built on the principles that many authorities have already adopted and for providing the case for a well-managed resilient network against one that is just well-maintained. However, he warned that the new code by being rationalized and simpler should not result in any dumbing down of asset management approach. Nor should it be used as a tool for further budget cuts.

The new rules set out in the new code of practice and the new DMRB have been developed against a background of continued under investment in roads, particularly in local road maintenance. Howard Robinson of RSTA provided a range of startling statistics, many of which are the government’s own, that demonstrated the old problems of increasing traffic demands and deteriorating roads are getting worse not better.

He pointed out that despite local roads representing 98% of the total road network and carrying 67% of the country’s traffic, they receive far less investment than the strategic road network (SRN). The Local Government Association estimates that £1.1 million per mile is invested maintaining the strategic road network. This figure drops to only £27,000 per mile for the local road network. Highways England has a 5 year plan with targets for customer satisfaction and network performance. There is no such plan for highway authorities who instead face ongoing cuts in budgets, have to jump through the hoops of complex funding arrangements and have a far greater backlog of repairs to address due to decades of under-investment. Latest figures from the Asphalt Industry Alliance’s ALARM Survey put the pothole repair bill at over £12.06 billion with one in six local roads being in such a poor state that they may have to be replaced within the next five years. With the Department for Transport predicting a 12% increase in traffic by 2025 and a 43% increase by 2047 things can only get worse.

Robinson stated that road investment is now reaching a critical stage for the local road network. The government’s recognition that poorly maintained roads have negative social and economic impacts needs to be matched by a real long-term increase in funding. He called for the investment of an additional 2p per litre of the existing fuel duty to fix the plague of potholes. This would provide an additional annual £1 billion. Robinson welcomed the focus on asset management, the benefits of a risk-based approach and the need to make smarter decisions to get better value and to increase efficiencies. These drivers are the way forward. However, smart decisions and improved efficiencies can only go so far. Without significant increase in funding the new rules will be stymied by the old problem of lack of investment.

NEW SURVEY FINDS LOCAL ROAD CONDITION GOING FROM BAD TO WORSE

The 2017 Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey makes for grim reading. It reports that decades of investment in road maintenance combined with an aging road network and increased traffic levels means that within the next five years one in six of local roads will need significant repair or may even face closure due to their poor condition.

Produced by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) and based on data supplied by 63 per cent of local authorities responsible for roads in England and Wales, the survey provides a definitive overview of the poor state of the local road network. It reports that the cost to restore the local road network to a satisfactory condition would cost over £12.06 billion and that it would take 13 years to address the backlog of potholes in England and nine years in Wales.

Over the last year local highway authorities repaired 1.7 million potholes – one every 19 seconds –  however,  they are playing a never-ending catch-up game that is exacerbated by ongoing budget cuts.

“It is not just about the provision of a realistic level of investment in what is our most important infrastructure asset. But for that funding to have long-term assurance so that highway authorities can carry out cost planned, cost efficient programmes of maintenance and not expensive emergency repairs,” explained Howard Robinson, chief executive of the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA). “Cost-effective maintenance that prevents potholes from forming in the first place surely is the logical financial approach”.

He continued: “Without a significant increase in road maintenance investment the condition of our roads will go from bad to worse. The survey’s finding that a sixth of local roads could be unusable within five years is of considerable concern.”

CHANCELLOR FOLLOWS ROAD MAINTENANCE FAILURE OF HIS PREDECESSORS

“In his Spring Budget Philip Hammond, has failed to address the decades of under-investment in road maintenance,” said Howard Robinson, chief executive of the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA). “His budget has no recognition that a well- maintained and efficient local road network supports the national economy. Instead we have a local road network that is increasingly Third World.”

RSTA has renewed its support of the calls by the Local Government Association to address the decades of under-investment in the local road network by injecting a further £1 billion a year into roads maintenance. The additional funding could be found by investing just 2p per litre of the existing fuel duty without any need to increase fuel duty rates.

The Chancellor announced £690m funding competition for local authorities to tackle congestion and to get local transport networks moving. “Some highway authorities have seen a 50% reduction in their road maintenance budgets. It is a pity that they will have to spend precious resources on competing for funding,” said Robinson.

Although the Department for Transport did announce in January 2017 funding of £1.2 billion for English local roads for the period 2017-18. That does not address the staggering £12 billion necessary to address the current backlog of repairs and potholes and bring the road network up to an acceptable standard.

The £1.2 billion funding includes £210 million from the National Productivity Investment Fund as announced in the 2016 Autumn Statement, £801 million Local Highways Maintenance Funding – Needs Element, £70 million from the Pothole Action fund, £75 million from the Highways Maintenance Challenge Fund where local highway authorities have to compete for funding and a further £75 million from the Highways Maintenance Incentive Element which requires completion of a self-assessment questionnaire ‘in order to reward those who demonstrate they truly understand the value of their asset’.

“It is disappointing that the Chancellor fails to appreciate the social and economic benefits of a well-maintained local road network,” said Robinson. “We note that that from 1 April 2017 vehicle excise duty rates for cars, vans and motorcycles registered before April 2017 will increase by Retail Prices Index (RPI) while VED for HGVs and the Road User Levy rates will be frozen. We call upon the Chancellor to consider channelling the funds from the VED rate increase towards road maintenance.”

AUTUMN STATEMENT FAILS LOCAL ROAD NETWORKS – Response from the Road Surface Treatments Association

Chancellor Philip Hammond has failed to address the fundamental issue facing the UK’s transport infrastructure – there is little point in making significant investments in headline projects if the roads that connect them are potholed and crumbling away.

“Unfortunately, the Chancellor has today has shown the same lack of understanding as his predecessors. The £1.1 billion announced in today’s Autumn Statement for local transport networks will do little to address the decades of underinvestment in load road maintenance which has resulted in a £12 billion backlog of pothole repairs”, said Howard Robinson, chief executive of the Roads Surface Treatments Association (RSTA).

He continued: “The Chancellor makes much of the need to invest in infrastructure to prove that Britain is open for business. Yet over 90 per cent of our traffic is carried by a local road network that is simply not up to scratch. He has failed to understand that the local road network is the essential link to headline projects such as the Cambridge to Oxford expressway.

Investment in infrastructure may be summed up by the idiom ‘learn to walk before you run’. Invest in fundamental and essential road maintenance before you announce grand projects. Or do both.”

INCREASED TRAFFIC DEMONSTRATES THE NEED FOR WELL MAINTAINED ROADS

New traffic level estimated from the Department for Transport (DfT) underlined the need for greater investment to improve the condition of the UK’s road network.

Provisional road traffic estimates for Great Britain for the year ending September 2016 show that traffic levels rose by 1.4% to a new record level that is 1.8% higher than the previous peak in September 2007. It total, there were 320 billion vehicles miles travelled on the road network between September 2015 and September 2016.

“Decades of under investment in road maintenance means that our network, in particular the local road network, is unable to cope with the amount of traffic that uses it. This is confirmed by the unacceptable high levels of deterioration and potholes”, said Howard Robinson, chief executive of the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA). “Over £12 billion is necessary to bring the condition of the local road network up to an acceptable standard. The ongoing severe budgetary pressures on local authorities means that they unable to commit to the necessary investment for programmes of long-term road maintenance.”

He continued: “These traffic figures should be a wake-up call for the Chancellor. His forthcoming Autumn Statement should include real funding investment in road maintenance to ensure that the network is in a fit state to cope with the increased traffic pressures”.

ROADS INDUSTRY WELCOMES MAJOR ROAD NETWORK PROPOSALS

“At last a joined-up approach to our road network”, was the response from the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA) welcoming the publication of the Rees Jeffrey’s Report “A Major Road Network for England”.

The report calls for the recognition of an 8,000 mile Major Road Network (MRN) that includes the 4,200 miles of the Strategic Road Network (SRN) of motorways and trunk roads run by Highways England and a further 3,800 miles of strategic local authority controlled A roads. Together they represent 4 per cent of England’s roads that carry 43 per cent of its traffic.

Given the strategic importance of the MRN, the report believes that there should be equal recognition between the SRN and local authority A roads. Both should have the same planning and funding certainty. Currently, the government has committed a £15 billion five year plan of investment in the SRN. Local authorities who are responsible for 98% of England’s roads have no such certainty. They have had to cut road maintenance as part of the government’s austerity programme and face complex capital funding arrangements without any certainty of five-year commitments. The result is a £12 billion back log of potholes and essential repairs.

“Central government seems to be unable to understand that the local road network is the essential link to the strategic road network. The establishment of a properly programmed and funded major road network is the joined up approach that our road network needs”, said Howard Robinson, RSTA chief executive.

Robinson welcomed the calls for funding from the National Road Fund to be made available for both strategic roads and local roads and for greater collaboration between Highways England and local authorities via initiatives such as sub-national transport bodies.

“A well-maintained national and regional road network that has a committed programme of investment is essential for the country’s economic and social well-being. The report from Rees Jeffrey’s offers a cohesive alternative to the mismatched funding between the SRN and strategically important A roads”, said Robinson.