Issue 6 - Spring 2012


Clients' view

National Pothole Review

Alan Taggart, HMEP

In 2011, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Transport, Norman Baker MP, announced an initiative to review the pothole problem under the umbrella of the Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme (HMEP). Atkins was commissioned to undertake the work, and extensive consultation was carried out with a range of key stakeholders from the public and private sectors, including road, footway and cycle user groups.

The Pothole Review was recently published on the Department for Transport (DfT) website (http://www.dft.gov.uk/hmep/pothole/index.php), and is the first product to originate from HMEP. The Review has considered how local highway authorities in England currently deal with potholes, as well as wider stakeholder views and implications. The report consists of three key messages:
  • Prevention is better than cure – intervening at the right time will reduce the amount of potholes forming and prevent bigger problems later.
  • Right first time – do it once and get it right, rather than face continuous bills. Guidance, knowledge and workmanship are the enablers to this.
  • Clarity for the public – local highway authorities need to communicate to the public what is being done and how it is being done.
There are, in all, 17 recommendations which underpin these three themes, each of which, if implemented, would lead to more effective outcomes in managing road networks.

As part of the Review, a study found that the UK’s approach to dealing with highway maintenance and potholes compares relatively well to international practice, but nevertheless there is significant scope for further improvements.

From consultation with the sector, case studies were developed to demonstrate where local highway authorities have taken actions to improve their approach. These provide essential information to the sector in implementing the recommendations, and have been published on the HMEP website.

Recommendations have also been made for guidance to the sector on calculating economic benefits of highway maintenance, as well as the value of providing greater long term certainty to the funding of highway maintenance by both central and local Government. The Review considers the importance of competency through skills and training for all parts of the sector, and a recommendation has been made for a specific quality scheme to be introduced by the sector, for the sector. Taking on board the recommendations of the review will not mean the end of potholes, but it will make a difference in reducing the problem and the impact on all road-users.

Copies of the Review may be downloaded from: http://www.dft.gov.uk/publications/pothole-review

Will the ADEPT/RSTA Codes make a difference?

Stephen Child, Chairman, ADEPT Soils & Materials Design & Specification Group

Will the ADEPT/RSTA Codes make a difference? In a word “no”, not unless they are well read and used by the right parties in the right way. The Codes have been produced by the industry for the industry however they have been peer reviewed, and approved, by ADEPT. Client organisations need to be aware of the Codes and ensure that suppliers of services recognise and work to the Codes. It is anticipated that ADEPT SMDS Group will be producing a client orientated document to give guidance regarding surface treatments and the inter relation with the Codes.

Why have we bothered to invest time and effort in producing such Codes? In the UK we have a wide variety of roads on the highway network such as motorway, dual carriageway, urban distributor and residential cul-de-sac each with a wide variety of characteristics that include rural village, open road, tree lined and gradient. There is also a variety of users from highway authorities, such as the Highways Agency or a London Borough, to consultants and contractors. Services are procured through various mechanisms from a direct term maintenance contract to a framework or as a second or third tier supplier.

Perhaps the key question is who needs any knowledge, expertise or training? The change in service delivery through outsourcing and reduction in authority expertise has resulted in greater reliance not only on the expertise of both consultants and contractors staff but particularly the expertise of the specialist surface treatment contractor. The Codes seek to inform and guide all parties involved in such works.

The wide variety of surface treatment solutions has resulted in the following Codes being produced and now available:
  • Geosynthetics and Steel Meshes
  • High Friction Surfacing
  • Re Texturing
  • Slurry/Micro Surfacing
  • Surface Dressing
  • Velocity Patching
  • In-Situ Structural Road Recycling
In addition the following Codes are in preparation:
  • Surface Preservation Systems
  • Thermal Road Repairs
  • Crack and Joint Repair Systems
  • Grouted Macadams
So back to the question “Why bother”? It is essential that as we strive to maximise use of the asset in the most cost effective manner we can achieve the required quality and consistency of the end product through an understanding that will provide the most appropriate solution, using the right treatment delivered right first time. Good asset management must be based on knowing that we are doing the right thing and that we are doing it right. The Codes have been developed to help achieve this and those involved have a responsibility to educate and share with others, particularly making authorities aware of the Codes and their interaction with CE marking and the National Highway Sector Schemes.

So informing the client is important and we can use the following opportunities to ensure all those involved are aware of the Codes and their benefits:
  • Web site – ADEPT and RSTA
  • ADEPT SMDS newsletter
  • RSTA e-news
  • RSTA members meeting with Clients
  • Personal contact
  • Workshop to share knowledge (Autumn 2012 in the North)
  • Client document on Surface Treatments to cover all Codes (to be developed)
  • 2 page summary for all Authorities (to be developed)
  • “Lunchtime” seminars
I would encourage all those involved to spread this important message as the Codes are an excellent enhancement to the surface treatment industry.

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