Highways improvement programme
Each year the Council must undertake condition surveys of the highway network and report these values to the Department for Transport (DfT). These figures are referred to as RCI (Road Condition Indices) and are presented as a percentage of the network in a Red, Amber and Green State.
- Red - Indicates considerable deterioration and may need maintenance within the next 12 months.
- Amber - Should be investigated to see if the road needs treatment.
- Green - Good condition.
In real terms, roads identified as red may need a structural repair, for example, resurfacing where potholes and significant other defects have been identified.
Roads identified as Amber will not include potholes, but will show other signs of wear, cracking, and are ideal to use treatments that halt this deterioration and renew the road. These treatments cost up to 10 times less than structural maintenance and are referred to as preventative. Roads identified as green require no action.
The traditional way of determining whether a road is red, amber or green, is by what are called SCANNER surveys. The DfT specifies that SCANNER surveys of the local road network should be undertaken as follows:
- Annually, covering on average at least 45% of the ‘A’ road network in both directions
- Annually, covering on average at least 42.5% of the ‘B’ road network in both directions
- Annually, covering on average at least 40% of the ‘C’ road network in one direction
With DfT approval, Cheshire West and Chester Council, along with other authorities, has changed the way in which the condition surveys have been carried out, and moved away from traditional methods.
This is because the alternative methodology (GAIST) that this Council now uses enables the authority to survey 100% of its road network, so that we have an up to date, accurate picture of our whole network, every year, without increasing the cost.
Using this data, we are able to treat more effectively those parts of the network that require structural maintenance (Red) and importantly, implement preventative maintenance, essentially sealing them, (Amber) to stop the roads in an amber state from deteriorating into the red state, which would cost up to 10 times more to repair.
Cheshire West and Chester is committed to improving the highway condition of our network and is working closely with our delivery partners to look for innovate solutions ensure that the limited funding we have to repair the roads is utilised effectively.
The DfT’s reports into the condition of roads, including in Cheshire West and Chester, can be found online:
Our programme of routine maintenance and surface treatments is a preventative maintenance measure, extending the operational life of roads and delaying the need for high cost major resurfacing and repair works.
We use a range of techniques and materials to repair and maintain the road surface to keep the borough’s road network moving smoothly.
- Pre-patching: February, March, August and September
- Main roads: April and May
- Local roads: April to end of August
Surface dressing is a simple and highly cost-effective method of repairing the road surface, which can prevent much more expensive work being needed later.
The process involves spraying the road with a layer of hot liquid bitumen (known as a binder) and then covering it with loose stone chippings. The dressing is then rolled, which together with the actions of slow-moving traffic, embeds the stone chips into the road surface.
Surface dressing seals the road surface to prevent water getting in and causing damage like potholes; and, because it provides a hard-wearing surface with good texture, it also has anti skidding properties. This added protection can extend the life of the road surface by up to 10 years. It is also one of the most environmentally friendly ways to repair a road because the existing road surface is left in-situ and only a thin layer is added on top, thereby minimising the use of natural resources i.e, quarrying for aggregate.
Traffic can be allowed to run on the new surface almost immediately, avoiding lengthy closures and disruption. Also the speed with which it can be laid reduces delays to traffic.
Surface dressing is a weather sensitive process and works can be delayed by both wet, cold and very hot weather. It is usually carried out in April/May as the treated road surfaces then have four good months to embed properly before the start of winter.
April to end of August
This treatment programme is a road maintenance process which involves laying a thin layer over the top of the existing road to seal the surface and restore grip, thereby extending the active lifespan of the road.
Micro asphalt cures quickly and can usually be driven on less than an hour after application. Its ability to reshape and re-profile existing surfaces ensures minor defects are sealed to stop water getting in to cause further damage.
On average, micro asphalt extends the ‘life expectancy’ of a road by five to seven years. It has a much-reduced environmental impact compared to standard resurfacing techniques as it is a non-polluting, cold-applied, zero-emissions material.
We are also using new techniques and materials to prolong the life of our road network: ‘Retexturing’ and ‘Rhinophalt carriageway treatment’. These are some of the methods our Highways team is trialling, in order to actively reduce our carbon footprint.
This involves bringing the existing surface back up to texture to improve its skid resistance and extend the life of the road, also improving road safety.
This is a cold spray that is applied to the top of the road surface. It penetrates into the existing surface to seal it, to prevent water getting in which is the main cause of potholes and other road defects.