Memorandum by CSS (RM 07)
MOTORWAYS, TRUNK ROAD AND LOCAL AUTHORITY PRINCIPAL
ROADS 1. THE CSS
1.1 The CSS, formerly known as the County
Surveyors' Society, was formed in 1885 and is a body which represents
the Directors of Highways, Transportation, Environment, Waste
Disposal and Economic Development functions throughout the UK.
CSS membership is primarily the Chief Officers of the local Highway
Authorities in England and Wales, and the Department of the Environment
(Northern Ireland) Roads Service.
1.2 The opportunity to be consulted on road
maintenance is welcomed by CSS. Previous evidence to the House
of Commons Transport Committee in 1996 relating to the UK Road
and Bridge Maintenance Programme was well received, particularly
with reference to the significant research work being commissioned
by CSS on road maintenance.
Evidence to 1996 House of Commons Transport Committee
relating to the UK Road and Bridge Maintenance Programme
2.1 Conclusions from the evidence were that:
(i) the County Surveyors' Society shared
the concerns of many other associated groups that current levels
(as then) of highway maintenance funding would lead to deteriorating
highway conditions and subsequently lead to even higher levels
of funding requirements to repair failed roads;
(ii) independent research commissioned by
CSS was leading to the conclusion that the deterioration in highway
conditions was not yet being identified in survey information;
(iii) a new approach would be needed from
Government to ensure that sufficient resources were targeted at
maintaining road infrastructure and retaining its asset value.
This could lead to ring fencing of appropriate expenditure or
indeed a re-examination of the current review of capital bidding
and allocation systems;
(iv) unless there was intervention in the
current (as then) system, highway conditions would fall further.
Expenditure would increasingly be spent on day to day measures
and "fire fighting" remedial action at the expense of
essential structural maintenance work.
(v) funding of the bridge strengthening programme
was such that the programme was not likely to be completed until
2005-06, seven years after 1999 when changes to the allowable
heavy weights limit would occur; and
(vi) lack of funding from the Government
via the existing funding process for bridge preventative maintenance
would have serious consequences for the residual life of the bridge
2.2 The Transport Committee in their final
report noted that the Department of Transport should take account
of the CSS studies.
Studies Carried out by the CSS
2.3 The three major studies completed following
the evidence heard by the Transport Committee found that:
(i) Highway Maintenance Funding Study (Coopers
and Lybrand): there had been a 7 per cent reduction in Highway
Maintenance Standard Spending Assessment provision 1991-96 and
there was a "time lag" of three to four years between
reductions in maintenance funding and evidence of road deterioration.
(ii) Spending and condition of the Principal
Road Network (WDM): structural condition had deteriorated 1994-96
and there would be a further deterioration without significant
increase in funding.
(iii) Highway Condition Information (Transport
Research Laboratory): there was a significant increase in the
percentage of road network needing maintenance and there were
increased road maintenance needs.
2.4 Key issues and conclusions arising from
the studies were that a strategic approach and capital investment
strategy were needed for road maintenance, the yearly funding
exercise was inefficient and there were major savings by spending
Extent of this Inquiry
2.5 The table below sets out the relative
significance of the major categories of roads by three criterialength,
volume and HGV use (GB at 1999).
|Road type||% of length
||% of flow (in terms of billion vehicle km)
||% of use by "HGV" traffic (Goods Vehicles >3,500 KGs gross)
|Total % in Inquiry||14
|Total % in LA Control||96
Source: Derived from Transport Statistics Bulletin; Road
Traffic Statistics 1999 at Tables 4.1; 2.1 and 1.4 (DETR)
2.6 As may be seen from the above table, the inquiry
is focused on motorways, trunk roads and principal roads, some
14 per cent of the total road network. There is concern that the
remaining 86 per cent of the network, all of which is in local
authority control, is not included. It is this part of the network
which is in the worst condition, having not had the funding levels
associated with principal roads, trunk roads and motorways.
3. CURRENT STATE
3.1 Coopers and Lybrand, in their study of highway maintenance
funding carried out for the CSS, found the system to be complex
and difficult to penetrate.
3.2 Highway maintenance funding for non-principal roads
and routine maintenance on non-principal roads is addressed through
the Highway Maintenance Standard Spending Assessment (HMSSA) of
some £1,800 million per annum. It also covers traffic and
safety management work. This kept up with neither inflation nor
traffic growth during the 1990s and resulted in a real cut in
funding over that period. There is no ring-fencing of revenue
to ensure that the SSA provision is spent on roads.
3.3 Relevant to this inquiry, capital expenditure to
maintain and strengthen principal roads and bridges is covered
by separate capital allocations from government. These virtually
halved in the 1990s but are now back to some £250 million
3.4 Government proposals to increase capital allocations
to cover both principal and non-principal roads are set out in
paragraph 5 of this evidence.
3.5 Although local government in general spent at HMSSA
levels and at capital allocation levels during the 1990s, deterioration
was still evident in the highway network.
NRMCS: National Road Maintenance Condition Survey (NRMCS):
Condition of Principal Roads
3.6 NRMCS is an internationally unique survey of the
ongoing condition of roads in Great Britain, which has been carried
out annually for nearly a quarter of a century. The survey is
carried out and steered by DETR, local authorities and the Highways
Agency collectively. Its purpose is to record the condition of
roads on an historical basis at the national level. It does not
compare condition to any adopted standard nor does it compare
one agency or authority within another, though this capability
is planned in the future. NRMCS is being overhauled and aligned
with the United Kingdom Pavement Management System (UKPMS) (see
paragraph 3.10 to 3.12 below). On Principal Roads, both visual
and structural surveys are carried out.
3.7 Urban Principal roads are in the worst condition
they have been since the survey began and, as shown in the trends
for the last 15 years, have been deteriorating steadily since
3.8 Rural Principal roads, on the other hand, have been
steadily but slowly improving and are the only category of local
authority roads showing an improved trend.
3.9 Over the seven year length of the structural survey,
the percentage needing close monitoring has worsened from around
13 per cent to around 15 per cent but this deteriorating trend
has now stopped. A comparison may be made with those trunk roads
which are A roads and generally accepted to be in a realistic
good steady state. On these roads about 7.5 per cent has been
the norm for several years for the percentage requiring close
monitoring. In other words, double the percentage of local authority
A roads are on the verge of distress compared to Trunk Road A
UKPMS: United Kingdom Pavement Management System
3.10 In the context of UKPMS, "pavement" is
the structure of the highway, not that part of the highway used
by pedestrians. For many years, highway authorities have used
various pavement management systems (PMS) to prioritise maintenance
works on principal roads, using objective surveys and analysis
to identify sections of road in need of repair.
3.11 UKPMS emerged as a concept about a decade ago to
provide consistent UK wide pavement management standards and to
enable strategy analysis across the whole network, which would
allow answers to questions such as: "What is the correct
budget level to maintain the network to a given standard?"
3.12 The implementation of UKPMS is dealt with later
in paragraph 5.
Condition of Bridges
3.13 There are more than 10,000 bridges (with span of
1.5 metres or greater) on the local authority principal road network
(LA PRN). The replacement cost of a typical bridge is in the order
of £300,000. This figure does not include the cost of public
utility service diversions, traffic management nor traffic delay
costs as the extent and severity of these items will vary greatly
depending on location. The vast majority of bridges on the LAPRN
remain in unrestricted service and carry full highway loading.
3.14 However, many bridges are in need of extensive maintenance
works and several await strengthening of 40 tonne capacity. The
level of funding provided in recent years for bridge maintenance
has fallen short of that required and the condition of structures
has deteriorated. Assuming that, for the LAPRN, the average maintenance
"backlog" is £7,000 per bridge this indicates a
total current maintenance liability of £70 million.
3.15 Many LAPRN bridges have been strengthened in recent
years as part of the national bridge assessment and strengthening
programme. The programme was initiated in response to a European
Directive to provide transport routes for 40 tonne lorries. Structures
that still await strengthening or replacement are generally kept
in service by the application of weight restrictions or the use
of interim measures eg a special regime of bridge inspections.
3.16 When implementing maintenance strategies of 10,000
bridges on LAPRN have generally been afforded greater priority
in accordance with road hierarchy. Local authorities currently
fund bridge maintenance from a mix of revenue and capital sources.
Street Lighting: Condition of Columns
3.17 Serious problems are developing nationally due to
the ever increasing age and associated deterioration in the condition
of the UK lighting stock. There are some 6.2 million street lighting
columns in the UK which represent a replacement cost of say £4,000
3.18 It is estimated that the recent annual spend on
replacement has been around £40 million nationally which
equates to a replacement rate of 1 per cent or a column life of
100 years. Based on a 25 year design life, a replacement rate
of 4 per cent would be required.
3.19 Whilst these figures relate to the whole UK lighting
stock, the principles are equally applicable to the Motorways,
Trunk and Principal Roads where the consequences of a failure
are in fact potentially more serious. One successful personal
injury accident claim of the order of £1 million would be
enough to replace 1,700 lighting columns.
3.20 As a result of the size of the backlog and continued
deterioration of the lighting stock, it is essential that those
columns most at risk are identified. Column inspection, testing
and replacement programmes need to be planned on the basis of
priorities established using appropriate risk management techniques.
4. STEPS TAKEN
Local Transport Plans (LTPs)
4.1 The five-year plans provide for a longer term, more
strategic view and the settlement for government provides greater
certainty of capital funding for local authorities. Provisions
in the Transport Act 2000 making LTPs statutory will further reinforce
their importance. The LTP process brings together both capital
and revenue funding, combining highway maintenance, revenue support
for public transport and capital investment. In their advice on
the content of LTP's, the government states that for highway maintenance:
LTPs must include a strategy for highways maintenance
and bridge strengthening. This should state clear objectives and
set out the criteria that the authority will use in allocating
Allocations for maintenance will be based largely
on an assessment of need.
We will continue to monitor the condition of the
local road network. For highways maintenance, condition surveys
similar to those that authorities already carry out for the National
Road Maintenance Condition Survey will be necessary as a basis
for the implementation of Best Value.
We expect authorities, in managing their bridge
stock, to give continued priority to bridge strengthening, particularly
on the primary route network.
Following increased resources given in the 2000-01
local transport capital settlement, authorities should be able
to continue to make substantial progress in strengthening weak
structures on the primary route network and other principal roads.
4.2 Local authorities are required to report Best Value
Performance Indicators (BVPIs) on highway maintenance in their
annual Local Performance Plan submissions to government.
BVPI 93 Cost of highway maintenance per 100
km travelled by a vehicle on principal roads. The definition
includes structural and routine maintenance elements.
BVPI 96 Condition of principal roads. The
percentage where structural maintenance is urgently required.
BVPI 105 Damage to roads and pavements.
Based upon the percentage of reported dangerous defects repaired/made
safe within 24 hours of authorities becoming aware of the situation.
4.3 A BVPI for street lighting is currently being developed
by DETR for future use.
4.4 There are no comparable BVPIs for motorway and trunk
roads. De-trunking will further complicate any time series comparisons.
However, the National Road Maintenance Condition Survey (NRMCS)
does allow comparison:
5. FURTHER STEPS
Recent announcements by Government on increases to funding
5.1 The capital allocations for individual authorities
in 2001-02 and 2002-03 for local road and bridge maintenance were
announced in November 2000. In answer to a Parliamentary Question,
the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Mr Keith Hill, said:
"As set out in `Transport 2010: The 10 Year Plan' we
are committed to providing sufficient funds to tackle the backlog
of expenditure on carriageway, footway, bridge and street lighting
maintenance, estimated to be £7 billion in the next 10 years.
In the forthcoming Local Transport Plan settlement we will provide
£535 million to fund capital maintenance works on local highways
in 2001-02 and £555 million in 2002-03. These are increases
of 103 per cent and 110 per cent respectively compared with 2000-01.
We have extended the settlement to cover non-principal roads as
well as principal roads and bridges.
These capital resources provided through the Local Transport
Plan settlement are in addition to the support for local highway
maintenance provided through Revenue Support Grant."
5.2 It is clear that these additional resources have
significantly increased funding for non-principal roads maintenance
in addition to providing a very welcome, though smaller, increase
in principal road funding. However, no commitment has yet been
made to fund street lighting renewal. An allocation must be included
from 2003-04 onwards.
5.3 There is no evidence at this stage to indicate whether
this new funding is sufficient to tackle the backlog on principal
and non-principal roads in the next 10 years, or arrest deterioration
over the next three years.
UKPMSUnited Kingdom Pavement Management System: Implementation
5.4 The implementation of UKPMS, as set out in paragraph
3, is now underway. With the adoption of UKPMS data standards
in the BVPIs for principal and non-principal classified roads,
local authorities have been given the impetus required to commence
surveys and set up systems. LTP submissions received in 2000 confirm
that the overwhelming majority of local authorities are using
or intend to use UKPMS for the assessment of future needs and
the planning of maintenance programmes. The full implementation
of UKPMS will extend over several years.
5.5 However, there is already a fully functioning UKPMS
available to local authorities and reasonable choice of supplier
who can offer different forms of technical and presentational
add-ons and links into related highway management systems such
as inspections, bridges and street lighting.
5.6 In preparing for future LTPs, local authorities will
not be able to submit bids in accordance with government guidance
unless they are using UKPMS to assess and analyse their network
properly both strategically and for best value.
Code of Good Practice
5.7 In the second half of the 1980s the Local Government
Association's predecessors, acting together in the face of high
levels of variability in highway maintenance standards and procedures,
produced "Highway Maintenance: A code of Good Practice".
It embodied good practice and resulted in high levels of consistency
of approach to deliver good quality
5.8 Ten years later, the Code principles still apply
but CSS recognised that it needed reviewing, as new and improved
concepts were improving processes whilst the standards were increasingly
unattainable in the financial climate then prevalent. CSS was
sufficiently concerned to invest its own research funds into the
review and was successful in taking the concept forward with the
assistance of DETR and LGA in supporting the emerging Best Value
Regime. The revised Code will become "Delivering Best Value
in Highway Maintenance" and will stretch the old Code by
including best practice on public consultation, service delivery
methods, pavement management systems and serviceability which
emphasises public rather than professional objectives and performance
management. Launch date for the new Code is June this year.
6.1 Studies carried out by CSS have revealed deterioration
in the local road network over the 1990s, with evidence of such
deterioration taking some three to four years to be identified
following significant reductions in highway maintenance funding
over this period by government.
6.2 Such evidence based information, from the National
Road Maintenance Condition Survey, is strongly supported by CSS,
who have supported development of the United Kingdom Pavement
Information System. Inclusion of such data based information in
future local authority Local Transport Plan submissions to government
is also strongly supported.
6.3 Increases in capital allocations from government
for highway and bridge maintenance over recent years, particularly
the substantial increases announced in November 2000 are welcomed.
There is however, no evidence at this stage to indicate whether
this new funding is sufficient to tackle the backlog on principal
and non-principal roads in the next 10 years, or arrest deterioration
over the next three years. Equally important is the current production
of a new highway maintenance code of practice which will ensure
best value is obtained from highway maintenance delivery.
6.4 Additional funding has not yet been identified by
government to address the serious condition of street lighting
stock and this is awaited in the near future.