Highways England today paved the way for improved road building with the much anticipated release of the first suite of new design standards.
The publication of the first sections of the new ‘Design Manual for Roads and Bridges’ (DMRB) will ensure roads are designed, built and maintained to the very highest and safest standards.
Accepted as the cornerstone of the delivery and management of motorway and all-purpose trunk roads across the UK, and a respected document worldwide, the DMRB was first published in 1992.
Highways England, the Government company responsible for maintaining, operating and improving the country’s motorways and major A roads, is currently updating it to make it clearer, more consistent and easier to understand and implement. The update puts design requirements at its core and it will also make it easier to incorporate developments in design best practice. This will result in greater efficiency and innovation throughout the lifecycle of the assets, fewer departures from the requirements, and reduced time and associated cost.
Highways England Chief Highway Engineer, Mike Wilson said:
“This is an exciting time for the highways sector as we continue to successfully deliver the record £15bn investment in roads. The updated DMRB documents mark a historic moment for the design of the UK’s motorways and major A-roads.
“I would like to thank the Devolved Administrations and our supply chain who have supported this significant review, which will ensure our roads are designed, built and maintained to the very highest, safest standards for the millions of drivers that use these roads every day.”
The first four documents of the updated “Design Manual for Roads and Bridges” (DMRB) are:
• Introduction to the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges
• Requirements for safety risk assessment
• Use of Compressive Membrane Action in Bridge Decks
• Management of Corrugated Steel Buried Structures
Experts at Highways England began the task of updating the complete suite of over 350 documents and associated interim advice notes (IANs) that make up the manual in April 2017 with the review due for completion by March 2020. This is a specific requirement of the Protocol attached to the Highways England Licence as part of the Government’s Road Investment Strategy.
Changes in the updated document include:
- a new structure of the volumes to be aligned to asset life-cycle stages, from appraisal to design up to disposal;
- new numbering systems of documents reflecting the relevant asset life-cycle stage and the specific discipline covered by the document;
- new style of individual clauses to make a clear distinction between requirements and advisory material;
- incorporation of interim advice notes (IANs) into the DMRB as relevant;
- consolidation of DMRB ‘A’ (advisory) documents with related ‘D’ (design) documents;
- introduction of National Application Annexes attached to the DMRB to cover the specific requirements of the Overseeing Organisations.
Several leading UK consultants have supported Highways England with the update, and a new set of drafting rules has been used, which follows best practice from national and international standardisation organisations.
The updated DMRB supports Highways England’s “The road to good design” vision [https://assets.publishing.
The DMRB re-drafting is being completed using a revolutionary online authoring tool purposefully built for the refresh of the document. This signals an important move to digital technology and unlocks the potential of digital innovations.
The updated DMRB documents will be released in phases with completion due by March 2020.
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With the heatwave set to continue across the North West, engineers from United Utilities are making sure that water supplies continue to meet unprecedented demand.
The water company said the record temperatures are setting new records for water consumption, with the region’s 3 million households and 200,000 businesses tapping into 1,958 million litres on Tuesday, 200 million litres more than usual.
The amount is the largest ever recorded in recent memory and experts are predicting the daily amount could top 2 billion litres later this week.
Highest demand is from urban communities where people having more showers and watering their gardens is thought to be the reason behind the surge.
United Utilities’ large integrated water pipeline network means supplies can be moved around the region to make more use of water from areas where more is available.
However, the record demand is prompting water company experts to urge people to go easy on the environment by following a few simple steps.
Dr Martin Padley, the company’s director of water and scientific services said:
“While our reservoirs are still more than three quarters full, as you’d expect, all this activity means we are sensibly putting well-rehearsed procedures in place to preserve water wherever we can and we would encourage others to do the same by reducing waste.”
Southern Water has signed a landmark partnership agreement with the company behind Fawley Waterside on Southampton Water to make the planned intelligent city the world’s first development with smart water systems built in from the outset.
The Memorandum of Understanding proposes that sustainable water and wastewater treatment will be constructed as part of Fawley Waterside’s ‘intelligent infrastructure’.
Ian McAulay, Chief Executive of Southern Water said:
“We are delighted by the positive attitude and understanding of our sustainability plans and goals shown by all of Fawley Waterside’s leadership team. This Memorandum of Understanding is a vital step in delivering the first example of a community designed with water efficiency in mind.”
The landmark development will integrate new innovations including:
- Onsite wastewater treatment with a potential to connect with food waste recycling and processing to enable renewable energy generation.
- Separated drinking and toilet flushing water for the new homes. This is supported by potential grey water recycling/rainwater harvesting on a landscape scale.
- Smart water meters for each property with ‘in-home’ displays.
- An integrated Smart Urban Drainage System (SUDS) for the site which will use natural processes to retain rain run off for storage.
Fawley Waterside’s Chief Executive, Aldred Drummond said:
“We look forward to working with Southern Water. Sustainability and water resource management is at the forefront of the Fawley Waterside project, improving efficiency and reducing resident’s costs where possible. We are keen to demonstrate to the whole of the UK what a modern water efficient development can achieve.”
Ben Earl is the water efficiency manager at Southern Water. He is in charge of developing future strategy, implementing new business models and delivering ambitious water efficiency targets for the business.
“We have set the hugely ambitious targets for this exciting development. This is part of our UK- leading campaign called Target 100, which aims to help our customers to use an average of 100 litres of water per person, per day by 2040.
“Reaching these ambitious targets simply can’t be done without new innovations and incentives for our customers – which is why we are thrilled to be working with Fawley Waterside to include features which will make the target not just possible but easily reachable.”
Staffordshire County Council is set to spend more than £30 million on maintaining roads this year.
The maintenance budget includes an extra £5 million investment by the council to tackle damage caused to the county’s roads during the winter. This comprises £2.5m for pothole repairs, £2m for surfacing and £500,000 to help tackle the backlog of drainage repairs.
During the last financial year the county council overspent on its infrastructure and highways budget by £1.2m and winter maintenance was one of the causes.
But Councillor Helen Fisher, cabinet member for highways and transport, said work was ongoing to repair roads blighted by wintry conditions.
“Well-maintained roads are essential for all of us, whatever we do in the county,” she told this week’s cabinet meeting.
“After the severe winter we had, the cost of gritting and helping people keep moving safely around the county has increased.
“The weather has left us with more than 20 per cent more potholes, but I am pleased to report the extra £5m the council announced earlier this year has already started to make an impact, with more than 7,000 potholes being repaired since April 1. We are currently on track to repair more than we did last year.”
Councillor Mike Sutherland, cabinet member for finance, said: “Congratulations to your team – they have been incredibly busy.”
Council leader Philip Atkins added: “I think we ought to recognise this winter has been 30 days longer, so we have had 30 days longer for potholes to develop and 30 days less to repair them.”
The council’s 2018/19 highways and transport capital programme, which also includes more than £7m funding for integrated transport improvements, was approved by the cabinet at the meeting.
Funding will come from a number of sources alongside the county council, including Government grants and contributions from developers.
The county council has also received an allocation of almost £3m from the HS2 Phase One Road Safety Fund for 2018-2026. This will support integration of HS2 with sustainable local transport structure in areas affected by the first part of the high speed rail line, which spans 13.5 miles in the south of the county.
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Highways England granted Surrey Live exclusive access into their control room to find out, once and for all, just how are those electronic motorway signs set?
It’s almost a year since the M3 smart motorway section officially opened in July 2017.
Road users getting to grips with the electronic signage and new road layout has been reported on extensively.
Readers regularly send in dashcam footage, complaints and horror stories. Including footage of one car driver getting a little too close to a lorry due to the lack of hard shoulder.
One regular user of the M3 smart motorway section, Nic Gee, repeatedly got in touch with us to air his concerns about what he called “poor usage, and resultant mis-trust, of the signalling systems”.
He thought the signs were regularly incorrect, leading to drivers ignoring them and using closed lanes as their own personal drag strips.
“It’s quite simply a boy who cried wolf situation,” explained Mr Gee. “Whereby the more this happens, the fewer drivers will take notice of the signs, and the sooner we will see a major traffic incident on this road.”
As a result of the confusion and new style of driving, Highways England released a video in hopes of educating new smart motorway road users.
“Even I can see that,” proclaims the narrator when the red X lane closure instruction is introduced.
So just who is pulling the strings at Highways England’s control centre and setting those controversial signs?
Claire Rowley, control room team manager at Highways England Regional Control Centre in Godstone – where all the electronic signage for major roads in the south east are set – is partially responsible for setting the signs.
She oversees the smart section of the M3 and the southern half of the M25’s signage, as well as other road signals, queues and congestion issues.
Here’s how it works when a lane is closed; a call comes in from a number of channels, this could be police, Highways England units, recovery organisations or the public.
The job is received by an operative, located on CCTV and a lane closure is set to assist the speedy and safe recovery of the stationary vehicle.
Surrey Live asked Miss Rowley if people ignored the signs. She admitted they do, but warned it is against the law to do so.
When quizzed if the signs are ever set in error, the control room team manager denied it, but said “mistakes do happen”.
There are safety checks in place to avoid setting the wrong signs, officers on the ground will radio through to the control room and confirm their location, including carriageway, so the signals are correctly set.
Miss Rowley added: “We’ve had all kinds of reasons why people stop on the M25, we had a nappy change once and another time somebody stopped to have a cigarette.
“There are days where not a lot happens at all, but no two days are the same. I’ve been here since October, 2013 and I still enjoy it, it’s never mundane.”
The first thing you notice about the control centre is how many computer screens and electronic displays there are in the room.
Each operative is surrounded by no less than five monitors. But surprisingly, only one screen is required to set the signs on the whole of the Highways England road network.
There also massive displays on one wall of the control room, showing rotating live footage from across the south east’s roads.
Darrell Bryant, control room operations manager at Godstone, said: “Quite often it’s a flow issue when the traffic stacks up, it’s a concertina effect, if everyone is going the same speed they end up coming to a halt at some point and it all stacks up – that can be a reason for putting a 50mph sign up on the gantry, to maintain flow.”
Mr Bryant explained that “flow” is the true aim of the easily changed signs.
Achieving flow is often the reason for slower speed limits on the motorway.
Mr Bryant describes exactly how a command is sent to the electronic gantry signs, and what all those symbols on his ‘sign-setting’ monitor actually mean in the video.
A ‘Q’ means traffic is queueing. A straight line indicates movement, and the small boxes hovering over the carriageway – marked in green for the M25 in the video – are the electronic gantry signs.
To edit what these signs show, an operative needs to click on the box and input a command.
In the video you can see a southbound section of the M25 has five ‘Qs’, meaning all five lanes have queueing traffic, therefore the speed limit on the gantry signs has been set to 40mph to keep road users moving at a safe speed.
There’s also an explanation for why the signs have been set to 40mph on the right of the gantry input boxes – in this case it says there is a stranded vehicle.
So the next time you’re sat in 40mph traffic on the M25, spare a thought for those in Godstone, watching over you like tech-savvy shepherds, making sure you get where you need to be, as safely and quickly as possible.
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Southern Water is looking for a supplier to build a trial plant for the removal and recovery of nutrients from decentralised urban wastewater treatment processes in South-England, rather than sludge treatment centres.
The water company has gone out to tender for the contract as part of the European Union’s NEREUS r & d project which wants to boost the development of the green economy and the transformation of wastewater into a valuable source of water, nutrients (e.g. cellulose, nutrients), and energy.
Around Europe, the conviction is growing that future arrangements for the treatment of wastewater should be based on the principles of a circular economy.
However, although the technology is available, decision makers are still hesitant to implement the technology due to the lack of practical evidence. One of the objectives of the Nereus project is to deliver the evidence base for both private and public decision makers, including cities, regions, water companies and citizens about the benefit of implementing resource recovering solutions to reuse wastewater.
The focus of Southern Water’s involvement in the project is to assess nutrient recovery opportunities, and the tangible impact of this for the business. It will also enable the utility to translate trial outputs onto other works within the SWS network and provide learning for the wider industry.
Work to date has identified possible benefits and potential technologies, together with identification of an appropriate site and analysis of the waste stream.
The trials, which are expected to start in October 2018, are planned to be undertaken on a sidestream at Peel Common Wastewater Treatment works which services a population of 250,000 people in South East England. The water company is hoping to trial 3 technologies as opposed to 1 for a full year because the risk of non commercial / economic recovery is high.
Benefits Southern Water expects to see from its involvement include the introduction of circular economy practices driven by the leadership team. The water company said it is also hoping to gain market leading insights and international industry recognition as a thought leader in this area of the water industry.
The NEREUS project has received a total of €241m in funding from the Interreg 2 Seas 2014-2020 European Territorial Cooperation Programme which is part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund.
Four different Member States are involved in the Interreg 2 Seas programme – England, France, the Netherlands and Belgium. The Programme area covers the coastal regions along the Southern North Sea and the Channel area. With a total area of 88,000 square kilometres, this makes it one of the largest cross-border Programmes in Europe.
The County Council has secured more than £11.5m for road safety improvements from the Government’s Safer Roads Fund
The money, announced by the Department for Transport, is for work to upgrade four stretches of road in the county over the next five years. The County Council submitted bids for each of the projects and has been awarded 100 per cent of the money requested.
Announcing the allocation of £100m across the country in the Safer Roads Fund, Roads Minister Jesse Norman said in a written ministerial statement: “The UK has some of the safest roads in the world, but every road death is an unnecessary tragedy. That is why the last government set out an ambitious range of further measures to enhance the safety of UK road users.”
The funding has been allocated to 50 of England’s A roads where the risk of collisions causing death or serious injury are highest, according to a list drawn up by road casualty reduction charity the Road Safety Foundation.
County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Highways, said: “I am road safety champion for the county, so any targeted funding for areas where there are proven road safety concerns is very much welcomed by me. This is a significant amount of money, which will be important in terms of improvements to our highways infrastructure and particularly for road safety.”
Money for three of the schemes was announced this month in the second round of funding. Finance for the fourth was announced earlier in round one of the funding.
The three second round schemes are in the early stages of development and will go through the County Council’s normal design processes, which will include public consultation where necessary.
The four schemes are:
A682 Barrowford to the A65 at Long Preston (£615,000)
This funding will be available during the current financial year. Work includes:
- Improved skid resistance at the junction with the B6253 and at Swinden Bends.
- Crash barrier along 700m of the west side of the A682 between the junction with the B6252 and Swinden.
- Improvements to visibility at the junctions with the B6253, C400 and C402.
- Signing and lining improvements along the length of the route.
A684 from Leeming Bar to junction 37 of the M6 (£7.06m)
This funding will be available in 2018/19 and 2020/21 and work will include:
- A complete overhaul of the one-way system in Hawes to introduce new footways, a pedestrianised area and traffic signal control.
- Traffic signals at Appersett Bridge.
- Amending a roundabout where the A684 meets the A6108.
- Introduction of right turn lanes at Newton le Willows crossroads.
- Junction improvements at Cuebeck Worton, Burtersett and Brentwood, where a new roundabout will be installed.
- Traffic signal improvements at Spennithorne Bridge.
- Numerous drainage, delineation, signing, kerbing, footway and skid resistance improvements.
A6108 from Ripon to Scotch Corner (£2.97m)
This funding will be available in 2020/21 and work to be completed over three years will include:
- An off-road route for cyclists and pedestrians from Bellerby to Leyburn.
- Improved traffic signal equipment in Richmond, along with new signals in Richmond and at Skeeby Bridge.
- New lighting and an improved zebra crossing in Leyburn.
- Improving and extending the crash barrier at Swale View Caravan Park, Richmond.
- Junction redesign at Sharrow Lane roundabout, Ripon.
- Various signing, lining, traffic calming, parking and priority system works throughout the route.
A167 Topcliffe to Carlton Miniott (£900,000)
This funding was announced in round one of the Safer Roads Fund, so is in place and much of the work has been done. The work includes:
- Busby Stoop roundabout: improved signage on all approaches.
- Bend north of Waters House: resurfacing with higher skid-resistant material, increased slope on the bend and improved drainage.
- Bend west of River Swale bridge, Topcliffe: crash barrier and signing and lining improvements.
- Allanbrooke Barracks junction: central islands and bollards to prevent overtaking and provide a safe route across the A167 for bus passengers.
- Resurfacing of A167 throughout 30mph limits of Topcliffe village and at other locations where the surface is poor, to provide a quieter, safer surface.
- Improved drainage throughout this section of the A167 and refreshing of signs and lining.
A report will go to the County Council’s Business and Environmental Services Executive Members on 29 June, when they will be asked formally to accept the offers of grant funding for the A682, A684 and A6108.
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