Category Archives: RSTA News

WINTER GRITTERS REPAIR SUMMER’S MELTING ROADS

The current heatwave means that local highway authorities have one eye on the thermometer and the other one on their road surfaces as the current high temperatures are causing some to melt.  With temperatures topping 30C, the bitumen in some road surfaces may soften and rise to the top. This makes the road surface sticky and more susceptible to pressure loads from heavy vehicles resulting in surface ridging and rutting.

Most roads will not begin to soften until they hit a temperature of around 50C. However, even a sunny day in the 20Cs can be enough to generate 50C on the ground as the dark asphalt road surface absorbs a lot of heat and this builds up during the day. The response for local highway authorities is to send out the gritters to spread granite dust or sand to absorb the soft bitumen and so stabilise the road surface and make it less sticky.

“Drivers may be bemused to see the gritters out in the summer when they are usually spreading grit and salt during the winter”, said Howard Robinson, chief executive of the Road Surface Treatments Association. “However, this is effective standard practice for keeping a road surface safe during extreme hot temperatures.”

He continued: “Asphalt is like chocolate – it melts and softens when it’s hot, and goes hard and brittle when it’s cold – it doesn’t maintain the same strength all year round.”

Following a heatwave in 1995, the road industry introduced a new asphalt specification introducing the use of polymer modified binders in hot rolled asphalt (HRA). These polymers raise the asphalt road surface softening point to around 80C which prevents it from softening under extreme hot weather. Other asphalt products such as thin surface course systems also normally contain polymer modified binders. Modified asphalts tend to be more expensive and are generally only used on heavily-trafficked roads. Robinson estimates that less than 5% of all the UK’s road surfaces contain polymer modified asphalt.  Surface dressings which are used to seal road surfaces and restore skid resistance also now predominantly contain polymer modified binders which will resist softening during periods of hot weather.

“Melting of some roads is not surprising during this heatwave but they can be quickly treated and revert back to normal once temperatures decline,” said Robinson.

RECORD LEVELS OF TRAFFIC FORCED TO USE DETERIORATING ROAD NETWORK

New Department for Transport statistics underline the unprecedented demands being placed on our road network which, due to decades of under investment and facing a £11.8 billion of pot hole repairs, is simply not up to the job reports the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA).

According to the recently published ‘Road Traffic Estimates: Great Britain 2016’, the total number of vehicle miles travelled grew by 2.2% in 2016 to 323.7 billion. Traffic on ‘A’ roads and minor roads has increased to record levels. Traffic on ‘A’ roads increased by 3%, compared to 2015, to 93.8 billion vehicle miles. Traffic on minor roads increased by 2% to 45.5 billion vehicle miles.

Despite this significant increase in traffic, the latest Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM), published by the Asphalt Industry Alliance, found that the overall local highway budgets for road maintenance have fallen by 16%, that the cost to bring the road network to a reasonable standard would cost £11.8 billion and it would take 14 years to complete.

“As traffic levels increase so do the demands being placed on an under-funded road network”, said Howard Robinson, RSTA Chief Executive. “An efficient, well-maintained road network is essential for the social and economic well-being of the country. Unfortunately successive governments have failed to realise this and increasingly the UK is a first world nation travelling on a third world road network.”

MAKE FIXING ROADS A VOTE WINNER

As they canvass for the forthcoming election, the political parties are failing to address a major issue for voters: the poor state of the road network.

Decades of under investment has resulted in a deteriorating local road network riddled with potholes. The bill to restore the road network to a decent standard is £12 billion because successive governments have failed to provide the funding to carry out the necessary levels of road maintenance. Continued cutbacks in local authority funding means that the situation can only get worse.

“The political party that commits to real investment in our local road network would gather significant approval from voters,” said Howard Robinson, Chief Executive of the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA).

RSTA is calling for the investment of an additional 2p per litre of the existing fuel duty to fix the plague pf potholes. This would provide an extra £1 billion to fix roads. RSTA has set-up a parliamentary petition forwarding the need for more funding which may be found at: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/183637  – the petition has been cancelled by the DfT because of the election

“A further £1 billion annual investment would certainly help local authorities tackle the damage done by under-investment by successive governments,” argued Robinson, RSTA. “The poor state of our roads is a major social and economic issue. Voters should make it a political issue too asking the party activists and parliamentary candidates what their political party plans to do to increase investment in road maintenance.”

NEW ROAD INDUSTRY CODE OF PRACTICE FOR ROAD IRONWORK SYSTEMS INSTALLATION AND REFURBISHMENT

A new industry Code of Practice for Ironwork Systems Installation and Refurbishment has been published by the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA). It forwards industry best practice and has been peer reviewed and endorsed by Highways England and ADEPT.

The Code provides practical guidance on how to avoid early life failure, how to achieve a high quality installation and ensure a high quality repair. It covers installation and refurbishment of ironwork systems including gulley tops and chamber covers. The Code cross references HA104/09 Chamber Tops and Gulley Tops for Road Drainage and Services: Installation and Maintenance in the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges. It also cross references the Specification for Reinstatement of Openings in Highways (SROH).

The Code aims to increase the average service life of ironwork installations and refurbishments by illustrating a ‘right first time’ approach using appropriate materials and good design, which when combined offer lowest whole life cost. Currently the service life expectation and specification guidance for the installation and refurbishment of ironwork varies greatly from location-to-location and between clients. Furthermore, guidance often covers products and components in isolation. The Code considers all aspects of installation and maintenance, including potential areas for failure. It consolidates existing industry experience into one document offering comprehensive industry best practice. Particular advice is given for brickwork supporting the frame and cover, bedding mortar selection and backfill selection around the ironwork installation plus surfacing and over-banding around the ironwork installation.

The health and safety, environment, training and quality assurance responsibilities of client and contractor are also 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 Ironwork Systems Installation and Refurbishment may be downloaded from the RSTA website: www.rsta-uk.org/publications

 

26% OF ‘A’ ROADS NEED SKID RESISTANCE CHECKED

A quarter of A-roads in England may be unsafe to drive on according to figures from the Department for Transport (DfT).

The DfT’s latest Road Conditions Statistics reports on the skidding resistance of trunk roads in England from 2007/08 to 2015/16. It found that the poor surface condition of 26% of A-roads required ‘further investigation’ of possible inadequate skid resistance. This is the highest level since 2007/08 and is indicative of the continued deterioration of the road network due to decades of under investment in road maintenance.

The deterioration of the trunk road network looks set to continue as a recent Freedom of Information request for forecasts of the miles of trunk roads to be resurfaced in 2017/18 cited that just 994 miles of the 5,300 mile network is to be resurfaced. This compares to 1,471 miles in 2015/16.

“Over time the road surface becomes worn and polished. This lessens the road’s skid resistance. For good road safety it is essential that the road’s texture is maintained on a regular basis in order to ensure skid resistance,” explained Howard Robinson, Chief Executive of the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA).

There is a wide range of surface treatments to choose from that restores a road’s skid resistance. This includes surface dressing, high friction surfacing, slurry-micro surfacing, and re-texturing. All provide cost-efficient skid resistant solutions.

“The road surface sector has developed a number of skid resistance surface techniques for a wide range of road applications. All are able to ensure that roads are safe to drive on,” said Robinson.

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.”