Storm Doris leads to 800 calls to Hertfordshire’s highways team in one day

Project Focus: Optimising the Wessex Grid

Best of the best of 2016 recognised at Highways England Supplier Recognition Awards

The combined efforts of Highways England contractors who worked tirelessly to repair and rebuild a storm-damaged road in Cumbria have been honoured at the company’s annual Supplier Recognition Scheme awards. Pulling out all the stops, this vital route was repaired, making a real difference to an area where tourism plays a vital part to the local economy.

Kier Highways, and Cubby Construction JV with the local supply chain completed the work three works early, under budget and without a single incident. It meant the local community had the A591 back in action in time for the start of the tourist season and Highways England could notch up a ‘first’ by delivering improvements on a local road network.

The Cumbria nomination was among 130 entries in this year’s awards which also recognised companies for achievements in various fields including safety, customer service, sustainability, capability, value and inclusion.

The supply chain – ranging from small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to international organisations – carries out around 90 per cent of Highways England’s work.

Jim O’Sullivan, Chief Executive of Highways England said:

“We need and value the expertise, ambition and innovation our supply chain partners bring, because without them we cannot deliver the £15 billion Government investment.

“We have achieved a great deal  since April 2015, and there is much more to do. We are responsible for the largest road building programme in a generation, and have thousands of miles of road network that need to be maintained to a high standard. It is imperative that we achieve this while keeping our network open to traffic, and ensuring the safety of our customers and workforce.

“That is what our awards are all about, recognising the contribution our supply chain partners make to the important work we do.”

Winners and highly commended as follows:

1. Safety, health and wellbeing – awarded to suppliers who show industry leading commitment to improving organisational, workforce and road user health and safety.

Winner: A-One+ and Postpullers UK Ltd for a collaborative approach to the development of an innovative solution to remove embedded safety barrier posts. The system reduces the safety risks faced by the workforce: requires only one operator, not two or three; reduces the amount of machinery needed to remove the barrier posts and gets the job done more quickly.

Highly commended: HW Martin (Traffic Management) Ltd; Manchester Smart Motorways (Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain & Bam/Morgan Sindall JV); Carnell Support Services Ltd

2. Customer Experience – awarded to suppliers who have demonstrated industry leading commitment to customer service.

Winner: Costain for the work they did to get to engage with communities, stakeholders, road users and community teams working alongside the construction team on the A556 Knutsford to Bowden scheme. The work they did demonstrated a clear understanding of our customer service strategy, and enabled them to build upon the basics to improve customer service. To achieve this, they used a wide variety of communication channels from VMS to social media to communicate with customers, alongside using commercial providers such as TomTom and ABTA.

Their whole ethos was to think about things differently. That pro-active, customer focused, lessons learned approach was what elevated this submission into the winning bid.
Highly commended: Carillion Morgan Sindall JV

3. Communities – awarded to suppliers that have engaged with community groups from the outset, understood what really matters to them and identified ways in which they can work differently.

Winner: Carillion Morgan Sindall JV for work on the A1 Leeming to Barton widening and motorway upgrade. They showed a dedication for changing the face of construction by revolutionising their commitment to social responsibility across the industry, by: proactively working with media to talk about the work they do; health-checks for HGV drivers; showcasing archaeological findings and targeting donations that will positively impact on local communities.

4. Delivering sustainable and environmental solutions – awarded to suppliers who have integrated environmental, social, economic and management aspects of sustainable development into the delivery of Highways England contracts.

·         Winner: Interserve Construction for empowering communities through social value mapping. The company worked alongside an environmental regeneration charity, Groundwork, to track their key objectives. This method enabled a better understanding of the key factors impacting communities where Interserve Construction were operating and their influence on employment, job creation and supply chain spend. This method has ultimately helped Interserve Construction to better identify how they can help Highways England meet their sustainability targets. For example;  M3 Black Dam Improvement and M11 Stansted schemes.

Highly commended: Graham Construction

5. Inclusion– awarded to suppliers that have created opportunities to bring people into the workplace, developed skills and created an environment where differences are valued and utilised.

·         Winner: Skanska UK Ltd for their work to initiate and encourage daily conversations with their colleagues, partners, clients and the wider sector about becoming more diverse and inclusive; how together there can be a culture in which everyone feels they can be themselves. They have tracked the impact of this work over the last six years, and have seen an increase in diversity and inclusion engagement scores from 66% to 82%.

Highly commended: VINCI Construction UK Ltd – Taylor Woodrow

6. Building capacity and capability – awarded to suppliers that have developed their employees’ skills and capabilities through delivery of Highways England contracts.

·         Winner: HW Martin (Traffic Management) Ltd for their work in building an employment and skills infrastructure. They actively managed the supply chain, bringing on board people from local SMEs, having a commitment to accessible entry level employment (for people from all backgrounds) and offering training opportunities for local people & SMEs – this includes apprenticeships and a self-funding skills development academy.

Highly commended: Costain M1 Smart Motorways

7. Managing down cost/improving value – awarded to suppliers who have demonstrated significant achievement by delivering Highways England contracts in smarter, more efficient ways.

Winner: A-One+’& Urbis Schreder Ltd’ for taking an existing lighting unit, used on 24 overhead gantries in Yorkshire to display information to road users, and adapting it to meet Highways England specifications. The result was an improved LED lighting unit, which is more visible to road users (especially at night). In addition, by making these changes, the whole life costs of the units was lowered, disruption to road users reduced (the control gear for the units is installed in the hard shoulder, meaning future maintenance can be done from there, without the need for lane closures) and road worker safety is improved (reduces the need for working from height).

Highly commended: Carnell Support Services Ltd

8. Supply chain management – awarded to suppliers that demonstrate Highways England’s strategic agenda, values and principles through supply chains.

Winner and Chairman’s Award: Kier Highways and Cubby Construction JV with local supply chain for the “Reconnecting Cumbria” Project. This saw national, regional and local organisations working together to repair Cumbria’s local road network following an unprecedented series of devastating, severe weather events in December 2015. Through collaboratively working with its supply chain, other contractors and stakeholders including Highways England, Cumbria County Council, Lake District National Park and United Utilities, the winning companies enabled Highways England to deliver works on Cumbria’s local road network – a first for the government company – three weeks early, under budget and without a single incident.

Winner: Kier Highways for their work with BSI and ToweyDuffy  in Area 3 to unlock a new certification process which saw the largest number of SMEs achieve the national standard for Collaborative Business relationships (BS11000) as part of a single assessment. Not only did it reduce costs and result in efficiency savings for Highways England, but it has helped promote collaborative working, improved how information is shared and better delivery.

Highly commended: Costain, Aggregate Industries and Walters; Chevron Traffic Management and Kier Highways, HTM, Golden Orb Solutions, Consillium

Kier gets £40m Southwest highways design commission

Highways England’s new procurement strategy has seen Kier Highways awarded a £40m contract for design services in the southwest.

This is the first of a number of asset delivery contracts in the southwest region under Highways England’s new way of running motorways and trunk roads, by which it takes back direct responsibility for managing both routine maintenance and capital works.

Kier’s contract, which runs for five years from July 2017, covers technical designs and supporting work for capital projects, from initial scheme feasibility phase through to as-build phase.

The southwest region comprises Areas 1 and 2 to create the largest highways England operating area and covers 11% of the strategic road network, from Cheltenham to Penzance.

Highways England will award further contracts for the southwest in April for construction and routine maintenance works.

Highways England commercial director David Poole said: “We are delighted that Kier Highways Limited will be part of our new asset delivery supply chain community across the southwest. This contract not only builds on the new way of working already taking place in the East Midlands and North of England but also demonstrates our ongoing commitment to increasing Highways England’s capability and control over the whole road network.”

Kier has also been providing design services under the new asset delivery model in the East Midlands (Area 7) since July 2016.

Dave Wright, executive director of Kier Highways, said: “This award is testament to the expertise we’ve provided through our design services work in Area 7 and we are pleased to be continuing to support Highways England in its new approach.   Collaboration for both clients and suppliers is at the heart of our business and this new approach allows us to continue our successful relationship with Highways England.”

£90,000 fund for digital project to help ease congestion on Southampton roads

Shoreham flood scheme enters next phase

A major flood defence scheme that will significantly reduce flood risk to over 2,300 properties in Shoreham and East Lancing has taken a step towards completion this week, with piling works at 2 of the project’s 10 phases now finished.

The current flood defences in the Adur estuary do not provide a high enough level of protection, and in places are in poor condition. This leaves Shoreham-by-Sea, Lancing and the surrounding areas at risk of flooding.

The Environment Agency has been developing a major improvements scheme called the Shoreham Adur tidal walls (SATW). The scheme will provide protection for extreme events with 0.33% probability (1 in 300 year) of occurring in 1 year, allowing for 50 years of sea level rise.

The scheme is separated into 10 reaches, or lengths of the estuarine bank. The design of the defences varies between the reaches as they have different characteristics and are subject to different pressures and potential flood impacts.

ADUR TIDAL WALLSThe huge jack-up barge, that has been working to install one of the new tidal flood defence piled walls in the town centre since November, will leave the site next week having completed its phase of the work.

Of the planned 10 construction phases, 3 have been worked on since the project started in October 2016, and work so far has been progressing well. The scheme will significantly improve the current ageing flood defences, and when the whole project is complete, in 2018, it will reduce the tidal flood risk to thousands of homes and a significant number of commercial properties in the area. It will also protect important local infrastructure such as the road network, railway line and Shoreham Airport.

Russell Long, Flood Team Leader at the Environment Agency, said:

“Work on the scheme is progressing well, and further phases of work are set to begin later in the year. We are aware of the impact that the development of these schemes can have on local communities, and we thank the residents of Shoreham for their understanding during the works.”

The SATW is a project led by the Environment Agency working in partnership with West Sussex County Council (WSCC), Adur District Council (ADC) and the Coast 2 Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

The work is funded from a number of sources, the bulk coming from central government flood risk management money. West Sussex County Council, Coast to Capital LEP and some private developers are also providing contributions through Adur District Council.

The existing flood defences are owned by the owner of the land on which they are located,  known as ‘Riparian Owners’. Ownership of the improved defences will also be with the owners of the land upon which they are built.

In the event of an unexpected risk of flooding caused by the defences, if the only property at risk of flooding is the riparian owner, then it is unlikely that the Environment Agency would intervene and carry out any improvement works.

The Shoreham Adur Tidal Walls project has a very strong business case in terms of the cost of the defences and the number of properties protected. It is therefore likely that should a serious problem occur to the defences the Agency would be able to justify spending public money to repair them.

However, the Environment Agency said that as it is subject to government policies and funding, this means it cannot guarantee it will be able to maintain the flood defences in perpetuity.

M1 ‘smart’ scheme consultation launched

Highways England is consulting on plans to introduce variable mandatory speed limits on the M1 which could affect more than 130,000 drivers a day as part of its ‘smart’ motorway scheme.

The ‘smart’ motorway – which uses overhead signs to vary speed limits, and also opens up the hard shoulder to traffic at busy times – is planned between junction 23a at Castle Donington and junction 25 near Sandiacre.

The Government-owned company is calling on any organisations, businesses or individuals that might be affected by the proposals to get in touch, with construction set to begin in early 2017.

Highways England says the ‘smart’ motorway scheme between junctions 23a and 25 will cost £120m.

Nick Robinson, assistant project manager, said: “As part of the improvements, variable mandatory speed limits will be used to manage traffic speeds and help reduce congestion, while enabling safe operation of the motorway.

“In total we will be upgrading 7.5 miles, which is expected to begin main construction in early 2017 and complete in late 2018.

“We would like to encourage any organisations, businesses or individuals affected by these proposals to make contact with us and communicate their views.”

Highways England says this stretch of the M1 carries in excess of 130,000 vehicles per day and has a “higher than average” casualty rate.

A spokesperson said: “The scheme is part of Highways England’s programme to add capacity to the existing strategic road network in order to support economic growth and maintain mobility.

“The M1 is a strategic route that carries high volumes of heavy goods and other vehicles.

“Drivers currently experience congestion and unreliable journey times at busy periods and traffic is predicted to grow, particularly with the growth expected at East Midlands Airport.

“It is expected that the smart motorways scheme will: increase motorway capacity and reduce congestion; smooth traffic flows; provide more reliable journey times; increase and improve the quality of information for the driver.

“The use of variable mandatory speed limits is essential to achieving the objectives.

“Through the introduction of technology, we aim to make best use of the existing road space.

“The scheme will convert the M1 into a controlled motorway between junctions 23a and 24 and an all lane running smart motorway between junctions 24 and 25.”

Sutton and East Surrey Water to rebrand as SES Water

Sutton and East Surrey Water has announced that from February 2017 it will rebrand as SES Water ahead of retail market opening for business customers in April 2017.

All future correspondence to customers from February will be under the new name of SES Water and will display the new logo.

SES Business Water was set up in back in August to participate in the new retail market in England.

Sutton and East Surrey Water Services are also changing their trading name. The new name is being launched at the same time as SES Water – all correspondence to customers will be under the new name of SES Home Services and will display the new logo.

SES Water will supply drinking water to approximately 685,000 consumers in 285,000 properties.

Customers’ bills will not increase as a result of the rebrand which is being funded by SES shareholders.

New motorway junction ‘will unlock economic growth’ for South West

Plans to unlock economic growth in the south west by creating a new motorway took a step forward today.

Highways England announced the preferred option for the new junction on the M49, which is part of the government’s £15 billion road investment programme.

The junction will improve road access and provide a much needed connection into the Avonmouth and Severnside Enterprise Area from the motorway network.

Featuring a two bridge junction design, the proposal uses the existing bridge at Farm Lane with a second bridge being built immediately adjacent.

The two bridges will be incorporated into a single roundabout that spans the motorway with new access and exit slip roads built on both sides of the junction so that it connects fully with both northbound and southbound traffic.

Highways England South West Regional Director Andrew Page-Dove said: “We recognise the strategic importance of the Avonmouth and Severnside Enterprise Area as a key regional employment site and that is why we are helping to unlock economic growth in the area by building this new junction.

“Over the last few months we have worked hard to identify the best possible design for the junction and we are excited to share our plans with local stakeholders, businesses and the community.

“As well as boosting the local economy, the junction will also improve access to the regional road network and relieve traffic on local roads.

“Three design options were shortlisted for the scheme and these were presented at an information event in July 2016, where members of the public, businesses and stakeholders were invited to give feedback. Highways England also worked closely with the local community before deciding on the preferred design.”

Simon Tothill, Property and Development Director for Robert Hitchins Ltd, who own the Westagte 296-acre employment site with Harrow Estates plc, said: “This will be a huge boost to the local economy and is a very welcome investment by Highways England.

“It will change the profile of Westgate dramatically, and unlock a large and incredibly well located site which, already benefits from planning permission, for employment uses. It opens the door to significant economic activity and will provide for thousands of new jobs.

“The design of the Farm Lane Two Bridge option will now be taken forward and will involve the detailed design of the new layout including drainage requirements, pedestrian, cyclist and equestrian access, as well as environmental improvements.”

Subject to statutory approval under the Highways Act 1980 and approval from the Secretary of State, construction is planned to start by the end of 2017.

Another information event will be held before construction starts to ensure everyone understands details of the final proposal and the associated construction programme. The estimated cost of the scheme is £45 million.