LTP3 ASSET MANAGEMENT AND HIGHWAY MAINTENANCE
The highway network is the backbone of the economy with virtually all freight movements; locally, nationally and internationally, relying on the network for at least the first and final parts of their journey. A well maintained strategic road network and its associated bridges and structures is essential to a prosperous and sustainable economy. A successful passenger transport system, and in particular the delivery of Quality Bus Partnerships, is contingent upon on the existence of a high quality, safe, efficient and reliable road network.
Growth in travel demand is continuing to occur, along with an expectation by network users of high maintenance standards. Streets are places where society lives, interacts and goes about its business, they often serve functions beyond providing transport links and shape the desirability of areas as places to live. The poor condition of minor roads continues to be a key issue for local voters and in their attitude to the local council.
The highway network is an aging asset, but funding for maintenance of the network is constrained. Maintenance, repair and replacement costs are increasing whilst resources continue to be limited or reduced.
The Greater Manchester highway network comprises: • 1,805 km of A, B and C roads
• 13,882 km of footways and pavements • 184 km of cycleways
• 2,865 bridges and structures • 304,210 street light columns • 608,000 road gullies
• 945 pedestrian crossings
• 7,439 km of minor and residential roads • 3086 km of public rights of way
• 1,110 traffic signal installations • 136,950 trees (estimate)
• 625 hectares of grass verge or landscaping. • 22,000 bus stops
• 800 bus shelters (there are 2,000 privately owned and managed) • 22 bus stations
• 12 park and ride car parks
The amount invested each year in the upkeep of the Greater Manchester highway network is not sufficient to cover the annual depreciation. This year-on-year shortfall has over time resulted in a current maintenance backlog on highway infrastructure of
£601 Million; nearly two-thirds of the backlog is attributable to residential roads and footways. This is shown in the following table.
Backlog, Depreciation and Investment in highway infrastructure in GM in 2008/9
Asset type Backlog,
£M Annual Depreciation, £M Annual Investment, £M Annual under- investment, £M Classified roads 44.4 25.7 17.1 8.6 Unclassified roads 225.6 28.1 12.5 15.6
Pavements and Footways 177.8 24.1 11.4 12.7
Street Lighting 76.3 10.4 10 0.4
Highway structures and bridges 76.9 17.3 13.2 4.1
Highway authorities have a duty of care to all highway users and to the travelling public in general, to maintain the highway in a condition which is fit for purpose. Ensuring this duty is met, reducing the risk of accidents and the financial burden of compensation claims, absorbs an increasing amount of expenditure on reactive temporary works to make-safe faults in carriageways and footways.
Innovative funding approaches have been used to bring in additional resources. For example street lighting services in some local authorities have entered into PFI arrangements that utilise private finance to fund the maintenance and replacement of street lighting assets, while the majority of bus shelters are managed and maintained by a private company in exchange for the right to display advertisements.
In the past, funding for maintenance was allocated locally on an historic cost basis. However in recent years we have been moving towards an ‘Asset Management’ approach. Asset Management is an holistic management framework that is accepted as best practise for demonstrating good stewardship of infrastructure. Its ethos is a regime of planned maintenance rather than reactive maintenance initiated by asset failure. The common objectives are to:
• minimise the whole life cost of assets, whilst maintaining good service levels • supporting the service aims of local, regional and central government, and the
community’s vision for the future of transportation, and
• optimally and sustainably manage an assets performance, risk and expenditure over its lifecycle.
Its concept is one of a logical and holistic framework that draws together a plethora of information such as, condition data, asset valuation, policies and strategies, customer surveys, local plans, performance indicators, value management etc. With this information decisions can be made on where to invest to gain the best rate of return (based on financial, social and environmental factors) whilst providing a customer focused service.
Each of the Greater Manchester authorities has produced a Transport Asset Management Plan and we will develop these further to ensure more sustainable and long lasting effective maintenance of roads and bridges, increased consistency of
quality and added value from maintenance work due to the development of integrated facilities through the maintenance programme.
An annual financial audit is set to begin in 2012 with the introduction of Whole Government Accounts (WGA). WGA will state in monetary terms the change in the value of highway assets from one year to the next. It will emphasise the need to prudently manage assets; local authorities will be required to prepare financial balances detailing backlog, depreciation, and investment, which will be audited. This will underline the continued accumulation of future maintenance liabilities and the importance of reducing the backlog of investment whilst matching the annual depreciation. This information allows the financial consequence of any decision to withdraw or refuse investment by neglecting maintenance on any part of the network to be transparent.
Many aspects of our overall strategy depend on a high-quality, reliable and serviceable highway network. That is, poor and declining road conditions:
• cause an increase in the accident rate and accident compensation claims rate • adds to congestion, increases traffic emissions and reduces air quality
• acts as a significant barrier to the promotion of cycling
• poor pavement conditions act as a significant barrier to making walking journeys, and walking to public transport for onward travel
• causes lower air quality due to the slow-down, speed-up effect where poor road conditions exist
• increases future financial liabilities for maintenance, and
• challenges carbon reduction targets due to increased congestion.
The disparity in funding between what we are currently investing in the highway network and its rate of depreciation is placing an increasing financial burden on future citizens and poses a challenge to the long-term economic solidity of the city region. At the existing level of funding, the backlog will continue to increase and the deterioration in highway and footway condition will lead to an increase in compensation claims. A reduction in funding would exacerbate this, lead to lower service standards and reduce the ability to invest in eg low carbon lighting and lighting management systems. Poorly maintained facilities will also act as a deterrent to walking and cycling. Providing additional resources would mean either diverting investment from other transport schemes, making efficiency savings or identifying new funding sources.
We will look for opportunities to make efficiency savings through:
• moving to evidenced based budgeting rather than working on a historic cost basis • development of long-term budgets
• development of maintenance scheme prioritisation systems
• creation of a more streamlined and efficient way to deliver highway maintenance through:
o introduction of more efficient working practises through greater integration in the operation of the highway network.
o joint service delivery and joint service procurement.
o smarter working, taking advantage of technological advances in mobile working and fully integrated work management systems
o larger joint area maintenance contracts, with larger more competitive contracts
o joint framework contracts
o bulk purchasing of services and materials o shared back office functions
o greater operational collaboration
o proportional policy and regulation funding
We will also investigate the potential of new funding streams, such as Regional Growth Fund, Local Sustainable Transport Fund, Tax Increment Financing and Community Infrastructure Levy to provide additional resources.
The key issues affecting highway assets have been identified as follows: • Poor network condition
• The affects of future weather patterns and adaptation actions
• Future skills and capacity within local authority highway departments • Increasing insurance claims
• Street lighting stock condition
• Street lighting power consumption and associated carbon emissions • Attracting sufficient funding to attain a steady state of network condition • Change to risk-based rather than resource based budgeting and project
• Reducing the plethora of signing requirements
Set out below are how these key issues are to be addressed, the strategies to be adopted in implementation plans and how these issues are to be taken forward by management teams.
Poor Network Condition
Poor network condition is evident, particularly of the unclassified road network, recent severe winters have further damaged the carriageways and have compounded the difficulties of maintaining a deteriorated network. Recent budgetary pressures mean that highway maintenance is unlikely to receive adequate investment in the short-term which will inevitable lead to further deterioration in the condition of assets. Creative and innovative alternatives to the delivery of highway maintenance need to be explored to ensure that limited budgets are spent in such a way as to extract the most benefit. This will include examining:
• Smarter, more sophisticated, business tools and repair techniques • Undertake a review to using budgets in the most effective manner • Examine alternative business models
• Examine alternative procurement and delivery models • Reviewing current maintenance standards
Particularly on the strategic road network, evolve current business and maintenance prioritisation systems to assist in strategic-level decision making, and network-level planning, in order to take an integrated approach to network-level planning and planning maintenance projects.
Utilise multi-criteria analysis tools to introduce a means of taking into account non-monetary benefits as well as asset valuation in the decision process.
Take a more financially pragmatic and sophisticated approach to highway
maintenance solutions on the minor road network that incorporates the best available techniques, such as, on-site recycling of highway construction materials, infra-red repairs, crack sealing and promote the greater use of thin surfacing and surface-dressing repairs.
Protect existing highway surfaces from accelerated deterioration by increased use of cost-effective repair techniques that ensure the highway surface is sealed against water ingress, and ensuring highway drainage is effective and efficiently maintained. Ensure a risk-based approach to highway gulley cleaning is taken that focuses on flood risk and the areas where sediment generation is highest.
Current bridge design and maintenance standards have been created with the intention of ensuring compliance with EU directive 96/53/EC which regulates the weights and dimensions of heavy commercial vehicles within the territory of the European Union. The intention of the directive is to harmonise the dimensions and weights of vehicles and thus facilitate the passage of goods nationally and
internationally. This in turn has led to the adoption of a 44 tonne design standard on principal roads for bridges and structures.
On the unclassified road network for the assessment of existing structures, where appropriate and following a thorough local risk assessment, it may be considered an acceptable risk to regard bridges or structures acceptable whilst possessing a reduced vehicle weight rating. If a bridge or structure is considered adequate and is risk assessed on a basis that reflects actual vehicular usage on the road, this may lead to long-term savings in maintenance liabilities on the unclassified road network, though improved monitoring regimes for such bridges may need to be implemented. However, the number of structures where this policy might be applied is likely to be limited due to the low number of structures on the unclassified network and the likelihood of assessed risks being acceptable in most cases.
Future Weather patterns and adapting to climate change
The deterioration of highways are damaged and aged largely by the affects of rainwater, high and low temperatures and by oxidisation. Predicted future weather patterns indicate more extremes of weather, although this will not introduce new consequences, highway assets are likely to be exposed to an increased likelihood and scale of hazards that will result in accelerated deterioration of assets when compared with today.
Review construction materials, standards and maintenance standards and challenge whether the current quality is sufficient to ensure investments made today are
protected against deterioration by future weather conditions whilst taking a whole life cost approach.
Review the standards for the adoption of new highways so they incorporate both long-term climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies and developments are future-proofed for future generations against the predicted effects of climate change, namely:
• Incorporation of sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS)
• Highway drainage designed to cope with future flood risk by the inclusion of a climate change allowance for future increases in rainfall intensities over the life of the development
• Utilise more resilient materials
• Promote the increased use of recycled materials and secondary products in highway construction
To mitigate against climate change by encouraging the take up of maintenance solutions that have a lower carbon cost, such as on-site bituminous material recycling and infra-red repair solutions.
Future Skills and capacity
There has been a general decline in the size of engineering departments in local authorities over many years. Currently this is particularly acute, as many authorities are restructuring which has resulted in many experienced senior professional engineers taking voluntary early retirement. Some specialism’s such as bridge design have seen a sharp decline across the city region as oppose to a local level. This loss of experienced engineering staff at all levels will result in future challenges in respect of meeting the technical skill demands of highway asset management. At a time when budgets are under great pressure, the most effective and efficient way of delivering the highway maintenance function needs to be found. Studies have shown that a highly-skilled workforce remains the best route to achieving higher productivity and greater competitiveness. A well-directed, coherent strategy needs to put in place that ensures that in the future the workforce possesses the education, training and experience that gives them the necessary skills to adequately meet the changes ahead. In agreement with the GMS skills objectives for a highly skilled workforce and to support the aims of increasing the number of those studying science engineering, increase the number of the highway maintenance workforce possessing a level 4 qualification or above.
Highway maintenance and asset management is becoming a more technically sophisticated discipline, authorities should take steps to ensure their service is protected against potential failure, this may also include:
• Working with local education establishments to development a training framework for future highway engineers.
• Each local authority assessing their capacity and skills gaps and targeting the areas where training and education are required.
• Encourage local authorities to take steps to consider the importance of succession planning/knowledge capture and to plan training to ensure staff have the relevant skills they will require for the future.
• Establish a regional framework whereby staff who possess the required skills or technical expertise either to advise or undertake specific projects can be shared across the city region.
• Create centres of excellence for the delivery of specific technical services. Undertake a review of the approach to highway maintenance including the
techniques employed and the required skills to deliver a more sophisticated approach to highway maintenance. Collectively establish and rollout best practise throughout the city region that takes into account available budget and the most cost-effective whole life cost solutions in terms of monetary and carbon cost.
Increased insurance claims
Work with the DfT to reduce the burden of accident claims against highway
authorities. Drive to put more responsibility on the highway user for injury following minor slips and trips.
Street lighting stock condition
The DfT use the number of street lighting columns over a certain age as a proxy for the condition of the street lighting assets. However, this may lead to old columns being replaced even though they are in satisfactory condition. Work with the DfT to establish a more precise indicator that relates to actual condition and does not lead to the unnecessary replacement of street lighting columns.
Street lighting power consumption and associated carbon emissions
The energy burden on highway authorities accounts for around 30% of a local authorities power consumption in a year. Non-domestic electricity prices are
expected to increase by around 40% by 2020 due to predicted increases in the base cost and the introduction of tax and levy policies. So there is great short-term
incentive to make immediate efforts to reduce power consumption and carbon emissions.
New strategies need to be adopted that reduce the amount of electricity and carbon consumption of street lighting, for example:
• Meeting carbon reduction commitments • Reduce carbon taxation
• Utilise low energy lighting
• Utilise solar powered lighting where applicable
• Examine the potential for trimming and dimming strategies
• Utilise Central Management Systems to actively control and monitor lighting requirements and to monitor maintenance requirements
• Introduce a city region street lighting adoption standard for developments that meets the above
• Work with the DfT to reduce the requirements for the illumination of signs, and to revise lighting design codes with the aim of reducing energy costs Attainment of steady condition state of assets
The aspiration is to attract sufficient resources in a year to ensure there is no net loss in value in the asset due to depreciation. Current spending levels mean that there is a year on year net loss which is leading to any increasing backlog of maintenance work, and storing up a burden on future taxpayers. Provide the evidence base to support achieving the goal of attracting the required investment to ensure that
highway assets receive adequate maintenance funding to ensure they are preserved for the use of future users.
Change to risk-based rather than resource-based budgeting and project prioritisation Continue to collect adequate inventory and condition data, and establish lifecycle plans, so that when coupled with demand aspirations and network planning enable risk-based decision making. The aim is to ultimately move to a regime where investment decisions are based on an evidence base that addresses risk rather be
based on available resources. This will lead to better budget planning and improved project prioritisation.
Reducing the plethora of signing requirements
Work with the DfT to reduce signing requirements to reduce on-street sign clutter and hence sign management and maintenance requirements. Place more liability on drivers in respect of driving responsibly, with the aim of reducing:
• Mandatory signage • Advisory signing • Non-enforceable signs