Environment and Transportation Select Committee

Date of meeting:

6 October 2009

Report Title:

The State of Hampshire's Roads

Report From:

Director of Environment

Contact name:

Kevin Fuller


023 8066 3311



1. Purpose of Report

1.1. This paper highlights the progress made in applying asset management to the network to assist with the management and maintenance of the highway asset and reports on the state of the roads in Hampshire.

1.2. In March 2009 the Select Committee asked for a report on the highways issues associated with the rural lanes in Hampshire, and the management strategy and options to ensure that they are protected and still available for traffic. This paper complements that report.

2. Contextual Information

2.1. The road network in Hampshire has evolved over many centuries. The lanes in Hampshire formed from earlier cart tracks linking village and town communities. As such there was no formal design of this network and it followed the natural terrain along the most accessible routes. The tracks were poorly maintained until the mid 19th Century when, following the Highways Act of 1835 and the Local Government Act of 1888, roads were taken on and managed by the local authority, and from that time organised, regular maintenance took place.

2.2. Country lanes and those established in the growth of the urban townships were generally made up from locally found unbound material, with a compacted gravel mix, it was not until the mid 1930s that they were all surfaced with `bound material', tarmacadam mainly, to reduce the dust created by motorised vehicles and pneumatic car tyres (the dustless road).

2.3. The structure of the country lanes and many minor roads in townships remains much as the original construction, with only limited additional tarmacadam or bitumen surfacing as top layers that have been added over the last 80 years. The road foundations, although not designed, have over time strengthened and become generally well compacted and, unless disturbed or weakened by water penetration, are able to withstand normal traffic usage.

2.4. Modern day traffic loadings does, however, adversely impact on lanes, particularly heavy goods vehicles, and where there are a significant number of lorry movements the structure at the edges may become weakened and strengthening may be required.

3. Network condition and network condition targets and trajectories

3.1. A good understanding of the network and its condition is a pre-requisite of good management of the asset. Historically, visual information has been depended upon, which still has an important place, but new technology has enabled the Council to develop improved understanding, building on the old historical data. There is a good understanding of network condition and a variety of tools is used to assess the condition. These range from visual condition inspections to automated structural assessments and surface condition indicators. These techniques have been used for a number of years to determine maintenance priorities and programmes of work. In recent times, however, new technology has been developed to allow the automated assessment of road surface condition from an array of laser measuring scanners mounted to a moving vehicle. The output from these allow a measure of road condition across the whole of the classified network. This measure is used as the national indicator for comparison purposes and to set targeted improvements.

3.2. These new methods have enabled the development of maintenance strategies and condition trajectories, although this is most fully developed for the classified road network.

4. Road Condition

4.1. The condition of the road network is measured against targets that were set within the current Local Transport Plan (LTP2) and stretching condition targets agreed in 2008 through the Government Office for the South East (GOSE) for the classified network. The attached appendix shows the detail of the targets and predicted condition trajectories.

4.2. The road maintenance strategy for Hampshire is to balance the spend across all classes of road. This approach recognises that the condition of the principal `A' class road network is good in comparison with the rest of the road network and, whilst improvements to principal roads are still being targeted, there is a focus on improving the condition of the remainder of the classified roads and the unclassified network. The application of this balanced approach does, however, reflect in the league tables of comparison between other authorities, where Hampshire is placed in the bottom quartile of county councils for the condition of its principal roads, whilst this county is better placed for the condition of the rest of the network.

4.3. Additional funding of £2,000,000 has been made available in 2009/10 to target the classified `C' class road network. The total budget for managing and maintaining Hampshire's road network is £58 million of which £23 million is spent on the structural maintenance of the roads and footways.

4.4. The use of scanner and electronic pavement management systems has enabled the development and application of `what if' scenarios; it allows assess to the road condition projections against funding criteria, LTP and other condition targets. It has facilitated the development of route strategies for longer term highway maintenance based on a knowledge of the whole network. This work has progressed apace over the last 12 months and the `A' road budget is now split on the basis of whole network need and aligned to route strategies. This approach is being progressed for the `B' & `C' class network for 2010/11 financial year. The unclassified network is expected to follow in 2011/12 but will be related to visual survey.

4.5. A similar approach is being adopted for the footway network, utilising the newly introduced national footway condition survey that Hampshire County Council has pioneered through its input in the national footways group.

4.6. The life of a road structure is directly linked to the traffic volume; the greater the traffic volume the faster a road will wear out and require strengthening and maintenance. The damaging impact of an HGV is estimated at 10,000 times that of a car and therefore has a significant effect on some parts of the network. Also, the effect of increased numbers and wider vehicles on county lanes has led to damage to the road edges and over-running of verges.

4.7. Roads over time, however, become well compacted and able to withstand normal traffic, including lorries. Exceptional traffic situations do require intervention and strengthening of the roads structure to accommodate the extra traffic loading.

4.8. A significant influence on the ability of a road to withstand vehicle loading and achieve a long life is the ingress of water. Water penetration softens the structure of a road, making it weaker and prone to rapid deterioration. The severe wet weather over the last three years has resulted in water penetration and, together with the freeze/thaw cycle of the winter, has resulted in an acceleration of surface deterioration and pot holes. Additional funding of £2,000,000 in 2008/09 and 2009/10 has been made available to carry out pot hole repairs and surface treatments to help address this problem.

5. Maintenance Treatments

5.1. Preventative maintenance by surface dressing is the main maintenance treatment that has been used in Hampshire. Surface Dressing helps to seal the road surface against water penetration and restores the surface texture, which provides skid resistance. Currently the network is surface dressed on approximately a 20 year cycle. Haunch repairs and structural repairs, including resurfacing, are applied on lanes that have deteriorated significantly to require a more substantial repair.

5.2. Highway safety inspections are undertaken annually with the purpose of identifying safety defects or hazards that require immediate attention. Reports from the public of these defects are also relied on and routine repairs are undertaken to these defects to ensure that the network is as safe as it can be. In any one year between 50,000 to 75,000 pot holes and defective areas are attended to. The planned maintenance programme, which includes resurfacing, reconstruction and surface dressing, is of the order of 750-1,000 maintenance schemes each year.

5.3. Highway works are carried out by the Term Highways Contractor, Amey, under a seven year (plus two years) contract. Included within the contract are key performance indicators that include measuring the works quality, programming and response times. These indicators are being used to determine any contract extension and to assess the value of work that is put through the contract. Mechanisms to procure works by different contractors exist for planned maintenance works in the event of poor performance by Amey. Direct supervision of the works is carried out by Amey and audits and inspections are undertaken by highways staff.

6. Conclusions

6.1. The road network is under considerable pressure and is being constantly loaded and subject to the natural elements, and is therefore always in need of systematic repair regimes. The weather over the last few years has exacerbated the rate of deterioration and climate change impacts are likely to add to this challenge. These factors highlight the need for good asset management and investment strategies to ensure that the road network is sound. Road condition assessment and pavement management tools are helpful and being developed. These will facilitate a better understanding of the network condition and maintenance options and help guide investment to achieve the condition objectives that are required by the County Council.

Section 100 D - Local Government Act 1972 - background documents


The following documents discuss facts or matters on which this report, or an important part of it, is based and have been relied upon to a material extent in the preparation of this report. (NB: the list excludes published works and any documents which disclose exempt or confidential information as defined in the Act.)







1. Equalities Impact Assessment:

1.1. To ensure that the network is available for traffic and that it can safely use the network.

2. Impact on Crime and Disorder:

2.1. Not applicable.

3. Climate Change:

a) How does what is being proposed impact on our carbon footprint / energy consumption?

b) How does what is being proposed consider the need to adapt to climate change, and be resilient to its longer term impacts?