Hampshire County Council
New Forest Highway and Transport Advisory Panel
21 September 2004
Highway Maintenance and Minor Capital Works
Report of the Director of Environment
Contact: Richard Chinn, tel 023 8042 7000 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
1.1 This report outlines progress with regard to the 2004/05 Highway Maintenance and Minor Capital Works programmes and gives an update on the 2004/05 Highway Maintenance budget. Two important issues for the Environment Department, namely the Traffic Management Act 2004 and Asset Management, are also discussed.
2.1 As previously reported, the highway maintenance programme is funded from both revenue and capital allocations.
2.2 The revenue maintenance programme funds minor works such as pothole repairs, routine drainage work (including gully cleaning), signs and road markings, environmental maintenance of grass verges, trees and shrubs, weed control and highway emergencies. Minor bridge works and winter maintenance are also funded from revenue allocations. Budgets are set at a level that ensures the safety and serviceability of the highway network.
2.3 The capital maintenance programme funds planned maintenance, including special maintenance, resurfacing and surface dressing, and also provides for essential repairs to the structure of the highway, eg programmed patching.
3. Highway Maintenance Budget and Programme 2004/05
3.1 The county-wide Highway Maintenance budget for 2004/05, approved by the Executive Member for Environment, is £52,513,000. This sum comprises £21,284,000 revenue funding and £31,229,000 funding from the capital programme provision. From this overall budget, £26,868,000 is used to fund centrally managed services and programmes such as street lighting, bridgeworks, surface dressing, winter maintenance and performance elements of the highways term maintenance contract. The remainder is spread across the eleven districts for local service delivery.
Revenue Maintenance Budget and Programme
3.2 The total revised allocation for the New Forest for 2004/05 is £1,055,000. Progress throughout the year has been in line with the spend profile and it is expected that the programme will be completed within time and budget constraints. A budget monitoring statement is included within Appendix 1.
Capital Maintenance Budget and Programme
3.3 The total allocation for New Forest for 2003/04 is £2,519,000, which includes £362,000 from the £3.5 million county-wide additional funding previously reported. The funding allocation for the capital maintenance `planned works' programme is based on the proven Highways Assessment of Maintenance Priorities (HAMP) rating system and has reflected the agreed intervention levels. The HAMP rating intervention level directs funding to those maintenance schemes displaying a higher maintenance need. Planned maintenance repairs undertaken through the capital maintenance programme include surface dressing, special maintenance and resurfacing schemes.
3.4 As reported previously, an extra £1 million was awarded to Hampshire by the Government to address clay shrinkage problems associated with the long hot and dry summer of 2003. A total of £68,000 was allocated to the New Forest area for 2004/05 and this has already been spent to treat badly cracked sections of the network, including the A35 between Ashurst and Lyndhurst.
3.5 This year's schemes are progressing well with the expectation that the `planned' maintenance programme will be delivered within time and budget constraints. The exception is the refurbishment of the slabbed footways in Station Road, New Milton which is the largest project in the current programme. It is anticipated that a start will be made on site towards the end of this financial year but that the scheme will have to be phased over two or more years as the works required are extensive. A project group comprising officers from the County, District and Town Councils, as well as representatives from the local business community, has been set up to ensure that the scheme meets its desired short and long term objectives, which are to address the maintenance priority of the uneven footway surfaces and also to improve the general streetscene. Progress on this year's schemes is shown in Appendix 2.
3.6 Surface dressing is an extremely cost-effective way of prolonging the life of the carriageway, sealing any existing cracks and restoring skid resistance. The total county-wide programme for 2004/05 is £2,727,000 (including approximately £700,000 safety engineering related surface dressing), which is managed centrally. All sites on this year's programme for the New Forest area have now been successfully treated. This year's schemes are listed in Appendix 2.
4. Minor Capital Works
4.1 The Minor Capital Works programme (also known as the Under £10,000 programme) is funded from the capital allocation based on the Local Transport Plan submission to the Department for Transport. A total of £25,000 was allocated for the New Forest area in 2004/05 and the schemes included in the programme are:
(i) South Street, Hythe £10,000
Provision of new footway
(ii) A337 Queen Street, Lymington £5,000
New pedestrian crossing point
(iii) U121 The Bickerley, Ringwood £10,000
Provision of new rural footway
(delivery in 2004/05 subject to resolution of legal issues)
4.2 These schemes are all scheduled to be completed by the end of the financial year with the exception of (iii) which may require an exchange of `common land' with Ringwood Town Council. If this is the case the approval of the Secretary of State will be necessary. Discussions are currently ongoing with the Chief Executive's Department and the Town Council in this regard but ultimately the implementation of this scheme could be delayed.
5. Traffic Management Act 2004
5.1 The Traffic Management Act received Royal Assent in July 2004 and places a new duty on the County Council to keep traffic moving and minimise congestion and disruption for all users of roads, footways and cycle tracks.
5.2 New and extended powers have been introduced to assist with this new duty, key of which is the requirement to appoint a Traffic Manager who will be the focal point within the authority with regard to activities that affect movement on the road network and to ensure the co-ordination of all works on the highway.
5.3 A new permit system for those wishing to work on the highway has been included, as well as improved works co-ordination, provision of better travel information to the public and de-criminalisation powers to give civil penalties for traffic violations. It is not clear yet when the new legislation will be enacted but it is anticipated that it will be introduced in stages as the specific regulations and Codes of Practice are finalised.
5.4 There are powers for the Government to intervene should an authority not perform adequately in this new duty and performance measures will be developed for this.
5.5 The Environment Department is already well placed to meet most of the requirements but some organisational changes may be required to meet the challenges of the new Act. These are presently being considered.
6. Asset Management
6.1 New Government resource accounting rules and the Best Practice approach to the management of the highway network have led to the requirement to start development of Asset Management Plans in the UK for highway networks. Asset Management planning is a relatively new concept in the UK but is well established in New Zealand, Australia and the USA.
6.2 The basic principles are that the whole life value of the highway network asset is taken into account when considering deterioration, maintenance and improvements of the asset. This not only includes the structural condition of the highway network but also its `serviceability', eg making best use of the asset in the safest way. The Environment Department has for some time had policies and procedures which already form key elements of Asset Management planning but further development is now required. This includes things such as the need to more accurately record and value the asset and look at whole life costing, longer term needs and scheme strategies.
6.3 The County Surveyors' Society has produced an Asset Management framework for guidance and it will be a requirement to report on the progress of County Asset Management Plans as part of the LTP process.
6.4 Consultants OPUS, who are recognised as world leaders in this field, have been appointed to help with the development of Asset Management planning for the Environment Department.
That this report be noted.
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