WJ | Collaboration delivers safety improvements for smart motorways

Highways England, Balfour Beatty, and Colas working in collaboration with WJ and their supply chain have enhanced the visibility of Emergency Refuge Areas (ERA) by highlighting the whole area with a bright orange surfacing

The days where it was possible to simply build additional highways or to widen existing carriageways to tackle congestion by increasing capacity have largely gone, therefore more innovative and environmentally balanced solutions are required.

Smart motorways relieve congestion and improve journey times by making the hard shoulder available for use at busy periods or on some schemes it is permanently converted into a traffic lane, known as All Lane Running.

Spaced emergency refuge areas (ERA) are provided every 1.6 miles on average and are clearly marked with blue signs featuring the orange SOS telephone symbol.

It is recognised that smart motorway driving is a relatively new concept so the ERA’s are being coated bright orange to enhance visibility of these areas and help drivers needing to find the refuge in an emergency.

This safety upgrade, using QMS Type 1 HyperGrip™ system, has been delivered on the the 13.4mile smart motorway scheme, which covers the M3 from junction 2 to junction 4a in Hampshire and Surrey.  Two emergency refuge areas were originally completed as the trial and now all ERA’s on the scheme will be afforded the same enhancement.

WJ North Operations Director Nick Holt commented “Our lead was from Colas but it’s amazing what can be achieved with good collaboration throughout the entire supply chain. Working together with Balfour Beatty, Colas, WJ South and our supply chain partners we resolved issues and ensured a safe, efficient and quality delivery, all in a very short space of time.”

It is planned now to apply this coloured system on all ERA’s throughout the scheme with other smart motorway contracts expressing interest.


£14m Louth and Horncastle flood alleviation schemes formally opened

Two flood alleviation schemes in Louth and Horncastle which collectively reduce flood risk to over 350 properties have been formally opened on 28 July, following successful completion of the projects.

Construction on the £6.5 million Louth scheme and the £8.1 million Horncastle scheme started in summer 2015, and were finalised this month. The two projects were delivered in a partnership of the Environment Agency, Lincolnshire County Council, East Lindsey District Council, Anglian Water and the Lindsey Marsh and Witham Third Internal Drainage Boards. Louth and Horncastle Town Councils will fund ongoing maintenance on the schemes.

The development of the two schemes was led by the Environment Agency, with construction being carried out by its contractors.

Communities in Louth and Horncastle were significantly affected by the floods of summer 2007, when over 200 properties in the area were flooded. The Agency said that close partnership working has since helped fund and made the two flood alleviation schemes possible.

The Horncastle flood alleviation scheme consists of a single flood storage reservoir on the River Bain, upstream of the town of Horncastle. As part of this scheme, a number of residents whose homes are at risk of flooding from the river Waring were offered property-level flood protection, such as air brick covers and flood doors. The Louth scheme consists of a flood storage reservoir on the Northern branch of the River Lud, and one on the Southern branch of the river.

In addition to reducing flood risk to hundreds of properties in Louth and Horncastle, the two schemes also deliver benefits to the environment. In Horncastle, partners have created a large lake and wetland area which will provide a habitat for water voles. At the reservoirs in Louth, additional water vole habitat will also be created.

Cllr Eddy Poll, Executive Member for Environmental Management at Lincolnshire County Council and Chairman of the Anglian Northern Regional Flood and Coastal Committee, said:

“We all know the kind of devastation flooding can cause within a community – that’s why projects like this are so vital. These new defences will protect hundreds of local families from the misery and disruption that flooding brings. It’s impossible to prevent flooding entirely, but we’ll continue to work with our partners to ensure that local communities are as well-defended and well-prepared as possible.”

The Leader of the East Lindsey District Council, Councillor Craig Leyland said:

“This is an important milestone in the work of the Environment Agency jointly with other authorities and we have been extremely pleased to have contributed £1million to these essential schemes to help reduce the risk of flooding to our residents and businesses. “

Eurovia Contracting has started work on the Temple Gate scheme in Bristol has begun, with the focus on giving the area increased traffic capacity and open areas for pedestrians and cyclists.  The scheme is committed to providing a more direct route through Temple Gate, with fewer traffic lights to improve overall journey times.

Eurovia’s brief includes creating safer pathways for pedestrians and cyclists, whilst generating areas for new buildings and public areas.  To reduce the through flow of traffic Eurovia will be implementing improved transport links, including a new MetroBus stop and clearer signage. The new layout will see an increased capacity for buses, which will reduce journey times further.

Andrew Tomlins, Operations Manager said: “The Temple Gate project aims to create a first-class welcome to Bristol for people arriving around Temple Meads, and to improve the journeys of people who travel through the area every year.

“As one of the key arrival points to the city, Temple Gate needs to be a place where people can move conveniently between different modes of travel.

“This is an exciting scheme for Eurovia and one that will benefit millions of people travelling to and from Bristol.”

The first stage of the project, involves detailed investigation works, including excavation of trenches for geotechnical and archaeological information, borehole drilling as well as carriageway core sampling.  In the coming weeks, Eurovia will be removing Temple Circus roundabout and the traffic island on Victoria Street. Following which, drainage works will commence in the area and Temple Way central reserve shall be modified.

Eurovia are keen to make road users and pedestrians aware of current and upcoming road restrictions to avoid delays where possible. The restrictions, including lane narrowing on Temple Way and Victoria Street along with Pedestrian Diversion routes, are detailed in weekly information updates to shareholders.

The south side of the Temple Circus roundabout has been closed as part of the scheme. This has simplified traffic movements to ensure the junction continues to run smoothly during peak times. This closure extends into the completed scheme, which means that traffic from the north will no longer be able to turn right into Victoria Street from Temple Way and traffic exiting from the Friary will no longer be able to turn right onto Temple Way or straight on to Victoria Street

Due to the narrowing of the affected roads during the works, all cycle lanes through the area shall be are closed.

Work on the Temple Gate scheme is due to finish Autumn 2018


Anglian Water Business wins Pure Gym contract

Anglian Water Business has been appointed to provide water retail services to the UK’s largest private gym operator – Pure Gym.

The three-year contract involves all of the company’s 180 sites across England and Scotland, and will also include any new sites added to the portfolio during that period.

Anglian Water Business has been providing these services to Pure Gym in Scotland for the past two years, and the gym operator opted for an early contract renewal in Scotland in order to consolidate all its English and Scottish sites with a single supplier.

The new contract is expected to generate operational savings in excess of £35,000 per year for Pure Gym, with these financial benefits increasing as more gyms are added to the network.

Anglian Water Business business account manager Simon Belton said: “We’ve been Pure Gym’s water retailer in Scotland for a number of years; and have built a track record and strong relationship that has prompted the company to agree an early contract renewal with us for its sites in Scotland in addition to consolidating all its English sites under a single contract.

“Our focus will continue to be on making it easier for Pure Gym to manage its water spend with an emphasis on outstanding service, water efficiency and reliability, supporting the company as it continues to set the high standards of affordable, flexible and top-quality gym facilities that have seen it grow so rapidly.”

Pure Gym was founded in 2008, and is the UK’s largest private gym operator, with more than 180 gyms and 800,000 members across the UK.

Pure Gym head of facilities Simon Rouski said: “The shower and change facilities we offer at every site mean that water is an essential element of our service to customers so a reliable supplier that can help us maintain reliability and reduce costs across our growing network of gyms is vital.

“Our experience with Anglian Water Business in Scotland means that we know we can trust them to take the hassle out of managing our water supply across all our gyms while offering us cost rationalisation.”

Anglian Water Business supplies more than 160,000 businesses and public sector bodies across the UK. In March, the company announced a joint venture agreement with NWG Business, to create a new water retailer – Wave. The joint venture is subject to approval by the Competition and Markets Authority, which is expected to make a decision next month.

Lengthy repairs to the M5 at Oldbury viaduct is set to begin this weekend – at a cost of £100 million

Highways England has reminded motorists they can pay to use the controversial M6 Toll as more roadworks are set to cause disruption on the M5.

Scheduled repair work on the Oldbury viaduct is set to begin this weekend, and severe delays are expected.

A contraflow system will be put in place to keep the carriageway open between M5 junctions 1 and 2 , as the £100 million project gets underway.

Over the weekend, traffic will be diverted onto the northbound carriageway, with a 30mph speed limit being put into place – with long delays expected as a result.

Two lanes will be in operation in each direction, and a 50mph speed limit will be put in place on approach to junctions 1 and 2, where the 30mph limit comes into effect.

Now Highways England has set out alternative routes to motorists – and reminded them they can consider paying £5.50 to avoid the congestion by using the toll road.

In order to keep traffic flowing in the West Midlands, changes have been put in place at several key junctions in the surrounding area, including M5 junction 4a northbound and M6 junction 8 southbound – in order to reduce traffic travelling towards the roadworks

The toll road has previously been criticised for low traffic numbers , with fewer than 50,000 vehicles passing through each day.

This new roadworks comes just weeks after disruption to the A38(M) Aston Expressway and M6 sliproads started, as part of another major maintenance project.


Smart motorways investment for England announced

Highways England has today appointed six joint-venture companies to design and build 10 smart motorways across England as part of a £1.5 billion investment.

Three of these projects will start in autumn this year: two in the Midlands – on the M1 from Junction 19 to Junction 16 in Northamptonshire and on the M5 from Junction 4a to Junction 6 in Worcestershire – and one in the North West on the M6 between Junctions 16 to 19 near Stoke-on-Trent.

The smart motorway schemes, part of the £15 billion taxpayer investment Highways England is delivering between now and 2021, will see 292 extra lane miles added to motorways.  The hard shoulder will be converted to a traffic lane and signing and technology will tell drivers what speed to drive at, if lanes are blocked or closed and about incidents up ahead.

Construction contractors appointed are Balfour Beatty and VINCI joint venture (Vinci’s subsidiaries are VINCI Construction Grands Projets and Taylor Woodrow), Costain and Galliford Try joint venture, and Carillion and Kier joint venture.  With designers being a CHM2 and Hyder joint venture, Amey and Arup joint venture, and Jacobs and Atkins joint venture.

Valued at up to £1.55 billion in total, this is the second major procurement to be awarded under Highways England’s Collaborative Delivery Framework (CDF). The first was the appointment of designers and contractors for the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement which was announced last month.

Roads Minister, Andrew Jones, said: “As part of our long-term economic plan, we are investing more than £1.5 billion over the next five years in upgrading congested sections of motorway. This means better journeys for millions of people across the country, easier access to jobs, and stronger links between towns and cities. This is good for the economy and good for Britain.”

Highways England smart motorway programme director, Andy Watson, added: “We have awarded these contracts to the companies who demonstrated to us they will work together, across all the projects, not just the ones they have been awarded.  They proved they are driven to get the best results on price, quality and on reducing impact on road users: keeping the motorways flowing while they construct these vital improvements.”

Details of the projects:

The Balfour Beatty and VINCI joint venture have won a construction package including delivery of the M5 Junctions 4a to 6 smart motorway in Worcestershire, starting this autumn at a value of £45.4 million.

They have also been appointed to construct two future schemes: on the M6 from Junctions 2 to 4 in the Midlands, expected to start work in 2017/18, and the M4 between Junctions 3 and 12 from London through Berkshire due to start work in 2016/17, at an estimated combined value of up to £562 million.  CHM2 and Hyder joint venture have been appointed as the designers for these two future schemes, valued between £25 to £30 million.

The Costain and Galliford Try joint venture have won a construction package including delivery of the M1 from Junctions 19 to 16 smart motorway in Northamptonshire, starting this autumn at a value of £65.39 million.

They have also been appointed to construct two future schemes: on the M1 between Junctions 24 and 25 in the East Midlands, and from Junction 13 to 16 in Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire, both expected to start work in 2016/17, at an estimated combined value of up to £302.3 million.  Amey and Arup joint venture have been appointed as the designers for these two future schemes, valued between £20 to £25 million.

The Carillion and Kier joint venture have won a construction package including delivery of the M6 Junction 16 to 19 in Staffordshire and Cheshire, starting this autumn at a value of £129.5 million.

They have also been appointed to construct three future schemes: the M6 from Junction 13 to 15 in Staffordshire, the M20 between Junctions 3 and 5 in Kent, and the M23 from Junction 8 down to 10 in Surrey and West Sussex, all expected to start work 2017/18, at an estimated combined value of up to £345 million. Jacobs and Atkins joint venture have appointed as the designers of these three future schemes, valued between £20 to £25 million.

Highways England says the value of construction and design contracts for those projects starting after 2015/16 are indicative as the schemes are in early development phase.  Highways England will work with the contractors to agree final target costs.

Scottish Water completes new £4.5m water treatment works

Scottish Water has completed the installation of a new water treatment works in Lochaline in the Morvern peninsula, using the latest technology to ensure delivery of a high quality water supply for customers long into the future.


The £4.5 million project involved the design, build and installation of a new Transportable Water Treatment Unit (TTU), which is now fully operational.

The work was carried out on Scottish Water’s behalf by alliance partner ESD and contractor Ross-shire Engineering.

The TTU was designed and assembled at Ross-shire Engineering’s base in Muir of Ord before undergoing comprehensive testing.  It was then divided into modules and carefully prepared for the 118 mile journey by road to its permanent home via the A9, the A82 and the Corran ferry crossing.

A new pipeline was also installed through the nearby forest to provide the new treatment works with raw water. Preparatory work has also been carried out for a further phase of work which is planned for next year, to improve storage capacity and accommodate potential future development in the area.

Gavin Steel, Scottish Water’s Regional Communities Manager for the Highlands, said:

“The innovative engineering that went into the solution for Lochaline was carried out in the Highlands for the Highlands, reflecting the growing capacity that exists in our local supply chain.”

Balfour Beatty starts work on £10m ‘lifting bridge’

Work on opening a major gateway to a key regeneration sites has started.

The £10m Middlehaven Dock Bridge and link road will replace the existing footbridge across the dock near to the Temenos sculpture.

Contractor Balfour Beatty began on site on Monday on the Middlesbrough Council-led project.

The lifting bridge is due to open next summer, paving the way for work to start on the proposed £30m snow centre.

Council chiefs say the new road access will help to ease congestion on the A66 trunk route, as well as further opening up around 25 hectares of development land on the wider Middlehaven site .

The scheme has been designed and progressed by Middlesbrough Council over the last 18 months with £3.9m provided from Tees Valley Combined Authority.

Councillor Charlie Rooney, Middlesbrough Deputy Mayor and Executive Member for City Centre Strategy, said: “This bridge represents a major milestone in the development of Middlehaven, and will further establish Middlesbrough as the city heart of the Tees Valley.

“Completing the east-west riverside arterial route will help to ease congestion and boost public transport in what is one of the region’s most important regeneration areas.


“Exciting things are happening at Middlehaven and this development is the latest step in unlocking the area’s huge potential and changing the face of Middlesbrough forever.”

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Tees Valley Combined Authority has made a significant contribution to this important project.

“The new bridge will improve access to the Middlehaven area and support the regeneration and development of brownfield land sites, bringing investment and job creation opportunities to this part of Middlesbrough.

“The plans to create a marina and centre for water sports and leisure use are very exciting and demonstrate the ambition that is being shown across Tees Valley and this is something I am very proud of and will do my utmost to support.”

The new road and bridge – with associated lighting, drainage and landscaping works – will feature a 95-tonne steel bridge deck with 120 tonnes of steel reinforcement and 159 tonnes of pre-cast concrete units.

The lifting bridge replaced earlier £4.5m plans for a swing bridge.

The new highways will link Shepherdson Way with Scott’s Road, crossing a narrow channel connecting Middlehaven Dock to the River Tees.

Community benefits during the project will include work experience, trainee and apprenticeship opportunities, engagement with local schools and colleges and adult employment opportunities.

Balfour Beatty operations director Neil Beck said: “We are looking forward to renewing our working relationship with Middlesbrough Council to deliver the new Middlehaven Dock Bridge and road.

“Improving the access to the Middlehaven Development site will assist with the regeneration of the surrounding area for which we are delighted to be a part of.”

No date has yet been set for when work will start on the proposed snow centre, but bosses said in May that they hoped to have the facility open by September 2019.

The work on the bridge and access roads is likely to cause disruption, particularly to Boro fans attending matches at the Riverside in the forthcoming season.

The council said it will work will Balfour Beatty and Middlesbrough FC to keep football fans, residents and businesses informed of any disruption to pedestrian and road access.


Met Office warns of ongoing high risk of unprecedented rainfall

New innovative research has found that for England and Wales there is now a 1 in 3 chance of a new monthly rainfall record in at least one region each winter during the period from October to March every year.

flood-456696  340

In the last few years several rainfall events have caused widespread flooding in the UK. In winter 2013/14 a succession of storms hit the UK leading to record rainfall and flooding in many regions including the south east. December 2015 was similar, and Storm Desmond hit the north-west causing widespread flooding and storm damage.

The Met Office said that by their very nature extreme events are rare and a novel research method was needed to quantify the risk of extreme rainfall within the current climate.

Professor Adam Scaife, who leads this area of research at the Met Office said:

“The new Met Office supercomputer was used to simulate thousands of possible winters, some of them much more extreme than we’ve yet witnessed. This gave many more extreme events than have happened in the real world, helping us work out how severe things could get.”

Analysing the simulated events showed there is a 7% risk of record monthly rainfall in south east England in any given winter. When other regions of England and Wales are also considered this increases to a 34% chance.

Dr Vikki Thompson, lead author of the report, commented:

“Our computer simulations provided one hundred times more data than is available from observed records. Our analysis showed that these events could happen at any time and it’s likely we will see record monthly rainfall in one of our UK regions in the next few years”

The authors have named the novel research method the UNSEEN* method to emphasize that this analysis anticipates possible events that have just not yet been seen.  It was also used as part of the recent UK Government National Flood Resilience Review (NFRR)+ when the Met Office was asked to estimate the potential likelihood and severity of record-breaking rainfall over the UK for the next 10 years.

The research has demonstrated that, even with the current climate, it is likely that there will be one or more monthly regional rainfall record events, in the coming decade.

This new use for Met Office computer simulations could also be applied to assess other risks such as heatwaves, droughts, and cold spells and could help policy makers, contingency planners and insurers plan for future events.

Highways England East set to invest £20m in resurfacing and safety schemes on A47

Drivers should enjoy a smoother ride along large sections of the A47 later this year when Highways England East undertake resurfacing and safety improvement schemes.

The A47 from Guyhirn to Wisbech will be among the stretches of the major trunk road that are due to be resurfaced with much of the work being done overnight to try to keep disruption to a minimum.

Staff from Highways England East were in Guyhirn with their mobile unit on Thursday (20) to outline their plans which will see phased work carried out from Peterborough to Great Yarmouth along the A47 starting in the autumn with completion due in early spring next year. Apart from resurfacing their will be safety schemes carried out too including new signage and better road markings. One area set for safety improvements is the stretch of the A47 from Redmoor Lane roundabout up to the Elme Hall roundabout where there have been issues with pedestrians walking along the road. Ian Jobson, Highways England operations manager, said the aim was to keep disruption to a minimum so safety schemes will be completed at the same time as any resurfacing work.

He said the resurfacing was proactive rather than reactive and would save money in the long run. Highways England is investing £20million in the programme of works between Peterborough and Norwich. One major scheme will be repair work to the Saddlebow Bridge at King’s Lynn which was damaged by a lorry hitting it earlier in the year.

Mr Jobson said: “Some of the beams have been damaged so repairs are essential.” However, the repair work will see the A47 closed over a number of weekends at Saddlebow, when there will be a major diversion in place. However, Mr Jobson said the work would not start until later in the autumn so it did not cause problems during the six weeks’ school holiday period. “We know roadworks are a cause of frustration for drivers, but they have to be done. We do everything we can to keep disruption to a minimum, including working overnight. We just urge people to be patient and we have introduced new signs on some roads explaining what we are doing and why, which seems to help people to stay calmer when they are held up.”

Steve Harris of Leverington, who works for HW Martin Traffic Management Ltd, was at Thursday’s consultation event with one of the trucks used by road workers. He explained how the truck has a large attachment at the back which acts as a barrier to protect workers from oncoming vehicles. It has a special impact cushion which helps take the sting out of any collision. “I haven’t had anyone run into the back of my truck, but I work with several people who have, so you know they do their job,” he said.