United Utilities awards £85m Thirlmere link mains contract

United Utilities has awarded the £85 million Thirlmere link mains contract to a joint venture between Farrans Construction and Roadbridge Ltd.

The contract covers the design, construction and commissioning of approximately 32km of large diameter twin water mains and approximately 24 km of large diameter water mains in the West Cumbria region.

The pipeline will link West Cumbria to the rest of United Utilities’ regional water network.

The JV was one of four bidders for the contract, which was orginally tendered as two separate schemes – the Williamsgate to Summergrove water mains build and the Bridge End to Williamsgate raw water aqueduct build.

United Utilities opted to tender the work as a single project after reviewing its overall procurement strategy for the £300 million West Cumbria Water Supplies project, which also includes a new water treatment works, two service reservoirs and a new pumping station.

The water company concluded that the challenges (including financial) that the project raised meant that the objectives of the strategy would be better met by a single combined offer.

The previous procurement structure did not permit the submission of a combined offer and did not allow the benefits of any combination to be taken into account in the evaluation.

Time lapse footage of Ewell Bridge work on A12

A huge crane lifted away a broken section of Ewell Bridge on the A12 at Kelvedon last week.

Highways England has now released time lapse footage of the repair work, which took place between junctions 23 and 24 between Thursday and Sunday.

The footage shows the moments leading up to the crane pulling away the broken section of the bridge.

Drivers faced various diversions during the four days, and were mainly diverted through back roads. Diversions were clearly signposted, Highways England bosses said.

Pedestrians wishing to cross the bridge were diverted to take Highfields Lane, Maldon Road and Ewell Hall Chase.

The road reopened at 4am on Monday this week.

Work to repair the Ewell Bridge had been delayed due to the ongoing work to repair Coleman’s Bridge over the A12 at Witham North, where Gurdip Johal, 30, died after his lorry plunged off it and onto a verge in February.


The Morrisons M1? How sponsors could get naming rights for Britain’s motorway

Manchester United could sponsor the M6 motorway to generate funds for investment in roads, the president of the AA has claimed.

Sports teams, supermarkets and tech firms are among the companies who could purchase the naming rights of major roads, Edmund King said.

This could lead to the Morrisons M1, the Microsoft M4 and the Adidas A1, according to the motoring expert.

A US-style Adopt-a-Highway scheme should be considered for local roads, whereby businesses help pay for litter collections in return for roadside advertising, Mr King said.

The ideas are part of his proposal to change the way people are charged for driving in the UK, with the current system meaning motorists pay some of the highest taxes in Europe to use a road network that in some places is congested and deteriorating.

The Road Miles concept, created by Mr King and his wife, business analyst Deirdre, would offer all drivers at least 3,000 free miles each year, with a small charge for further distances, in a bid to reduce non-essential journeys.

It is one of five shortlisted entries for the £250,000 Wolfson economics prize to reduce traffic jams.

Car drivers in the first year would pay less than one pence per mile and there would be concessions for those living in the most rural areas and the disabled.

A nationwide lottery and an auction of extra miles would be used to keep the scheme’s costs down and fund maintenance such as pothole repairs.

The proposal would see fuel duty drop from 58 pence per litre to 47 pence within five years, and more than £3 billion in extra investment for roads could be generated.

Mr King claimed Road Miles would be “miles better, fairer, greener, safer”.

He went on: “Drivers fed up with current cones, congestion, and chaos, will be compensated for delays and have a say in how our roads are run.”

His wife said: “Road Miles will bridge the gap between falling fuel duty revenue and the electric vehicle revolution.

“More money will be available for roads yet the motorist will pay less as extra income from the Road Miles lottery, naming rights and auction will supplement revenues.”

The prize, founded by Lord Wolfson, chief executive of clothing giant Next, will be awarded in July.

Lord Wolfson said: “Road congestion is a source of daily misery for millions of people: undermining our quality of life, environment and economy.

“As the political parties put together their programmes for government, they would do well to turn their attention to the plight facing users of Britain’s road network.

“The creativity and enthusiasm demonstrated by the entrants to the 2017 prize has been inspiring.”

Roads to be resurfaced across Bradford district in £1.45m project

A £1.45M road maintenance scheme is rolling out across the district next month.

The work, part of an annual programme, will see crews applying a surface dressing to many of the district’s roads throughout the spring and summer.

The method is quicker than full resurfacing, but highways officials say it can prolong the life of a road by up to ten years, if applied at the right time.

It needs to be undertaken in good weather, which is why the work is due to start at the beginning of next month and continue through the warmer months.

Council staff said they could not yet give a full list of road closures in the district, but that notices will be put up warning people when the work will start in their area.

Leaflets giving further advice will also be distributed a few days before work starts.

Steve Hartley, Bradford Council’s strategic director with responsibility for highways, asked motorists to be patient during the “short-term inconvenience”.

He said: “This work is part of a major programme designed to prolong the life of the highways across the region.

“We hope people can bear with the short-term inconvenience in the realisation that it is quicker than other forms of maintenance and will make the roads safer in the long term.”

The work in Bradford, set to cost approximately £1.45m across the district, is being funded by the Department for Transport and administered by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

Similar work is also being undertaken in Calderdale, Leeds, Wakefield, York, Rotherham, Doncaster and Kirklees.

The process consists of a thin film of hot bitumen being sprayed onto the road, and then a spreader puts hard chippings onto the hot bitumen.

These chippings are then lightly rolled to form an interlocking surface. The road can then be driven over with care, with loose chippings being swept away. The road markings are then replaced.

Highways chiefs say this process means that the road surface is sealed to prevent water seeping in and causing damage, while also increasing the skid resistance of the surface to make it safer.

Although motorists can drive on the new surface immediately after the work is finished, they are being advised to drive slowly because there will be loose chippings at first.

The road will be swept after two or three days to remove these, and may be swept again a few days after that if needed.

Surface dressing is described as quicker than other maintenance techniques and causes less disruption to traffic.

Cul-de-sacs as well as main roads can be surface dressed.



Former Thames Water CEO joins WRc Board

WRc, the innovation consultancy in the water, gas and waste and resources sectors has announced the appointment of Martin Baggs, former CEO of Thames Water, as a Non-Executive Member of the WRc Board.

Ron Chapman, Chairman of WRc commented:

“We are delighted to have someone of Martin’s caliber join the WRc Board and look forward to working with him to support the Executive team during this period of rapid expansion.”

Martin Baggs Bio 1Martin Baggs has recently stepped down as CEO of Thames Water after taking up the role in November 2009. In his time at Thames Water in addition to managing the largest water and wastewater business in the UK serving 15 million customers,

He was also responsible for overseeing the development of the £4.2bn Thames Tideway Tunnel and the formation of the three major alliances encompassing the key sector delivery partners in new long term strategic partnership arrangements promoting collaboration and innovation. Prior to Thames Water he was an Executive Director at Macquarie with responsibility for the portfolio of Utility Investments across Europe including Gas Distribution Networks, Metering and Renewables businesses.

Martin has a long history in the water industry having undertaken senior roles at South East Water and Southern Water. Martin is a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers and a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Water Conservators.

Commenting on his new role, Martin Baggs added:

“This is an exciting time to be joining WRc and I look forward to working with the Board and the Executive team as the company continues to grow driving innovation across industry whilst also providing key services as a trusted independent advisor.”

M3 closed for whole May weekend as Woodlands Bridge work continues

The M3 will be closed for a whole weekend in May as work to replace Woodlands Bridge continues.

Highways England has announced the motorway will be closed in both directions between junction 2 for the M25 and junction 3 for Bagshot.

The closure will run from 9pm on Friday May 5 to 5.30am on Monday May 8.

Highways England said: “The closure is to allow the beams of Woodlands Bridge to be safely lifted into position.

“Clearly signed diversions will be in place and Highways England is advising drivers to plan their journeys in advance, and to leave extra time.

“Installing bridge beams is a large and complex task, so it is essential the M3 is closed to ensure maximum safety for road users and our road workers.

“Highways England has worked closely with Surrey County Council , the police and other stakeholders to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum during the work.”

There will be fully signed diversions in place, however as delays are expected drivers are advised to consider alternative routes if possible.

Four clearly signed diversion routes will be in use:

  • Drivers travelling northbound on the M3 heading to the anti-clockwise M25 (for Gatwick , Dartford and Dover) will be diverted from the M3 junction 4 via the A331, A31 and A3 to join the M25 at junction 10.
  • Drivers travelling clockwise on the M25 heading to the southbound M3 will be diverted from the M25 junction 10 via the A3, A31 and A331 to the M3 junction 4.
  • Drivers travelling northbound on the M3 heading for the clockwise M25 (for London or Heathrow Airport ) will be diverted via the A322, A329M and M4.
  • Drivers travelling southbound on the M3 will be diverted via the M25 and the M4 to then use either the A329M & A33 or A34.

The weekend closure is part of the work to ongoing smart motorway project for junctions 2A to 4 and the bridge is expected to reopen later this year.

The original Woodlands Lane Bridge was constructed in the 1970s and had started to show signs of deterioration, requiring weight and width restrictions.

The bridge was closed to traffic in October 2016 and demolished later the following month, forcing Windlesham parents to take a 40-minute detour to take their children to and from Valley End Infant School.


The Simple Solution to Traffic

New report says UK water firms will need to significantly increase infrastructure investment

A new pioneering asset management research report commissioned by the UK water industry says that UK water companies will need to significantly increase infrastructure investment – with significant implications for customers’ bills.

The report is warning that the estimated effect the additional investment will have on bills will be an additional 0.7% increase year-on-year to 2050.

The report by UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR) is the outcome of UKWIR’s ‘Long Term Investment in Infrastructure’ project which began in May 2016 with the aim of presenting a body of evidence for the long-term infrastructure needs of the UK water industry.

The project, undertaken by asset management specialist George Heywood, his team from Servelec Technologies by Servelec Technologies, a leading provider of business optimisation solutions and colleagues from Frontier Economics and Atkins Global, is seeking to raise awareness of the issues with government and industry stakeholders.

The report, which is shortly due to be published by UKWIR, will show that UK water companies need to significantly increase levels of expenditure in infrastructure, both in the medium and long-term if current service standards are to be maintained.

Without increased expenditure in infrastructure the 350,000km of water mains and 625,000km of sewers in the UK will begin to fail more often, the research shows.

According to the report financing the increased expenditure required will need to be achieved through increases in consumer bills. Using a model of the way water companies are financed in England and Wales, Frontier Economics used Servelec Technologies’ analysis to estimate the effect the additional investment will have on bills to be an additional 0.7% increase year-on-year to 2050.

Using Servelec Technologies’ asset management software PIONEER as an analytical tool, the project team was able to determine an acceptable level of investment based on a variety of short and long-term scenarios which included the effects of social and climatic changes and the potential benefits of future technologies.

Failure to increase investment will lead to more bursts, interruptions, flooding and pollution

The project team’s analysis has made use of national asset databases, combined with deterioration, service, cost and optimisation models. It shows that if the industry does not increase expenditure then bursts, interruptions, flooding and pollution will happen more regularly, in opposition to the increasing service expectation of customers.

Following the completion of the report, Servelec’s Technical Director George Heywood said:

“We are pleased with the body of evidence we have provided to the UKWIR Steering Group and we hope that the UK water industry as a whole will benefit from this research.”

“The report will advise UK water companies, the Government and industry authorities of the level of investment that is required to achieve the replacement and rehabilitation needed to offset deterioration of UK water networks due to age and use, and the subsequent impact on the consumer.”

“Failing to increase expenditure now will result in significantly higher recovery costs in future years adding to the burden on the consumer and network infrastructure.”

UKWIR (UK Water Industry Research) was set up by the UK water industry in 1993 to provide a framework for the procurement of a common research programme for UK water companies on ‘one voice’ issues. UKWIR’s members comprise 22 water and sewerage companies in England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Government publishes £1.2 billion plan to increase cycling and walking

Cycling and walking investment strategy released.

Stricter punishments for speeding offences in England and Wales

Tougher punishments for the most serious speeding offences have come into force in England and Wales.

Under new guidelines, fines for drivers caught doing 51mph in a 30mph zone or 101mph on a motorway will start from 150% of weekly income, rather than the previous level of 100%.

The Sentencing Council said it wanted a “clear increase in penalty” as the seriousness of offending increases.

Motoring groups have broadly welcomed the new guidelines for magistrates.

Some 244 people were killed in crashes that occurred when a driver was breaking the speed limit on Britain’s roads in 2015.

The new Band C fines will allow the worst offenders to face fines of between 125 and 175% of their weekly income – with the starting point for magistrates in most cases set at 150%.

The maximum fine, however, remains the same, meaning a speeding driver cannot be fined more than £1,000 unless the offence takes place on a motorway, where the limit is £2,500.

New speeding fines

AA president Edmund King said it was right that “extreme offenders” were punished “severely”.

He added: “Responsible drivers will welcome the changes coming into force today.

“The majority of drivers who keep to the correct speed, as well as driving to the conditions, won’t be affected.

“It is only those who deliberately drive dangerously who will end up in court.”

RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said while the new measures “underline how seriously the courts take speeding offences”, the limit on fines means there is not a “level playing field”.

He also questioned whether police officers have enough resources to ensure the tougher punishments have an impact on road safety.

Mr Gooding said: “While we broadly support linking the amount of the penalty with income, the cap on the level of fines means that this link is broken for high-income drivers – hardly a level playing field.”

Gary Rae, campaigns director for road safety charity Brake, said: “Toughening the fines and penalties for speeding is long overdue.

“I hope that magistrates ensure the new sentences are consistently applied.”

Sentence levels for less serious offences are not changing.