Quieter, smoother M6 in £7 million Carlisle upgrade

New £2.8m deal will see motorways get 50 new EV charging points

Highways England hopes the plan will help motorists switch to electric cars.

More than 50 new electric vehicle charging points will be built near Britain’s motorways and main roads as part of a £2.8 million deal.

Highways England, the government-run company in charge of England’s strategic road network, awarded the contract jointly to BP Chargemaster and Swarco UK as part of its drive to promote the uptake of electric cars. The organisation wants to ensure that 95 percent of its network is within 20 miles of a charging point, in the hope that this will encourage more motorists to switch to electric power.

The contract will see Swarco UK build new charging points in the south of the country while BP Chargemaster builds those in the north. The two companies will install the charging points over the next nine months, and then will be responsible for their operation and maintenance for the coming seven years.

The news comes just a week after figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed that EV sales have doubled in the past 12 months, with February alone seeing more than 730 examples hit the roads of the UK. However, despite the uplift in sales, electric cars still represent less than one percent of all new cars sold.

Mark Collins, Highways England’s environmental designated fund portfolio manager and the man in charge of the project, said the charging points would help reduce the “range anxiety” commonly associated with electric cars.

“To help improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions we’re introducing more electric charging points,” he said. “These will be built at locations near to the network, for example at nearby town centres. This shows that we are looking ahead to meet the future demand for this facility.

“This contract is about supporting drivers of electric vehicles using our network. It will give them additional charging facilities just off England’s motorways and major A-roads to help them make longer journeys and reduce the anxiety of potentially running out of power. We look forward to the benefits this will provide drivers on our roads.”

David Martell, the chief executive of BP Chargemaster, said the company was proud to be improving the country’s electric car infrastructure, which he hoped would help drivers make the transition to electric cars.

“Access to convenient, fast and reliable charging points across the UK will help enable the mass adoption of electric vehicles,” he said. “We have been focused on creating such infrastructure over the past 10 years and are very proud to be working with Highways England to expand the provision of rapid charging points so that an even greater number of drivers can make the switch to electric.”

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Thames Water: Oxford leakage crackdown saves 8m-plus litres per day in last 6 months

A major crack-down by Thames Water is seeing the company fix more than two Oxford leaks a day in a bid to conserve water. Over 420 leaks were repaired across the city in the last six months – saving more than eight million litres of water every day.

Tim McMahon, Thames Water’s head of water networks, said:

“We’ve been finding and fixing more leaks than ever in Oxford to help conserve water and make our network more resilient for the future.

“Many of the leaks are hidden underground and can’t be seen from the road surface, and they have been found by teams of experts using high-tech acoustic loggers and electronic sensors as well as traditional listening sticks. It’s been a huge effort, delivered fantastic water savings, and is one we’re going to keep up.”

Thames Water has also trialled satellite imagery, drones and a plane fitted with thermal imaging cameras to detect leaks in rural areas.

More leaks are being fixed on private domestic pipes which the company offers to repair for free in most cases, even though the responsibility lies with the property owner. In total around 30 per cent of all leaks across the Thames Water region are on private customer pipes, inside the property boundary.

In some areas of the city the company has three water mains running under the same stretch of road, some more than two feet wide.

Thames predicts shortfall of 350m litres of water a day between amount available and amount needed by 2045

It’s estimated that an extra 2.1 million people are due to move into the Thames Water region over the next 25 years.

This, combined with climate change, means the company has predicted there will be a shortfall of 350 million litres of water a day between the amount available and the amount needed by 2045. By 2100, this is predicted to increase to 650 million litres a day.

In preparation, Thames Water is striving to reduce demand for water by installing meters, fixing 1,500 leaks a week across its wider region and supporting people to use less water by offering free in-home advice and water-saving gadgets, such as special shower heads.

Since launching its award-winning ‘smarter home visits’ initiative in 2016, more than 14,000 Oxford homes have been visited by an army of water-saving experts who have installed more than 30,000 devices to help residents save a combined 624,690 litres of water a day.

Tim McMahon added:

“The number of people living in our region is continuously growing but the amount of water available isn’t so we all need to do our bit. That’s why it’s vital we reduce leakage. We’re also encouraging our customers to save water at home and at work by making very small changes, like turning off the tap while brushing your teeth, which in a city the size of Oxford can make a big difference.”

As part of its £11.7 billion business plan for 2020-25, Thames Water has pledged to spend £2.1 billion on increasing resilience and reducing leakage by 15 per cent by 2025, with plans to halve it in the longer term.

Around 1,500 leaks on average are being fixed every week, a 10-year high for the company which is currently spending over a £1 million a day to tackle leakage and improve its customer service.


County Council’s £43.3m highways investment ‘addresses local residents’ priorities’

Nottinghamshire County Council reiterated its commitment to repairing and resurfacing the county’s roads and helping cut local journey times when it approved the raft of highways schemes costing £43.3m it currently plans to deliver during 2019/20.

In November, the council’s Communities and Place Committee agreed in principle to take forward a list of highways programmes for 2019/20 meaning that the related design, consultation and co-ordination of works could get under way so that work could start from April.

Today the committee signed off the schemes to be delivered over the next 12 months, including a number of additional projects which take into account the completion of feasibility studies, as well as additional requests for schemes from local communities.

Feasibility work is still ongoing on most of the road maintenance requests made by county councillors, so a decision on those schemes will be confirmed at the committee’s May meeting.

The confirmed £43.3m investment, which was signed off at a budget meeting of Full Council last week (28, February), includes a proportion of the authority’s additional £20m cash pot which was earmarked by the council last year for repairing and improving Nottinghamshire’s local road network.

Committee chairman Councillor John Cottee said: “The proposed schemes to enhance our highways network will help improve access to jobs, local centres and visitor attractions; and make our roads safer for all road users.

“We listened to local communities across the county and propose that the additional £20m funding is allocated to schemes which reflect local priorities – so predominantly residential road maintenance as well as tackling delays in local journey times and helping to reduce the number of road traffic accidents that result in injuries. Our plans for 2019/20 aim to help address these priorities.

“The additional funding for highways maintenance will primarily be used to deliver improvements to unclassified roads, including roads prioritised by local councillors, and will be concentrated on roads we know are going to deteriorate in the next few years. It’s about making the ‘right repair at the right time’ with the use of a range of repair techniques to avoid larger repair bills in years to come.

“When given a choice about where we should focus our spending on transport in our recently published annual satisfaction survey, people’s overwhelming priority – 80% – was repairing roads and pavements.”

Coun Cottee added: “We have another busy year coming up which demonstrates this administration’s commitment to investing and improving our 2,600 miles of highways and transport infrastructure.

“Only last month, the council announced that it would be investing £1.75m buying new equipment which will speed up and increase the range of options to repair roads in the county.”

Carriageway maintenance schemes
The programme names over 200 roads where repairs are planned to be undertaken in 2019/20 including:

•  A surface dressing scheme on the B6139 Coxmoor Road, Kirkby in Ashfield following a highly successful structural patching works carried out by Via Operations this year, a road which was deemed to be prohibitively expensive to resurface due to its condition and length, has now been rescued to the point it can now be prepared, surface dressed and saved from further deterioration
• Resurfacing works on the A638 London Road, Retford
• Resurfacing works on the section of the A6005 Queens Road West, Beeston on the section which crosses the Station Road traffic lights

• Resurfacing works on the A60 Mansfield Road, Redhill, Arnold (in the area of the Redhill Road traffic lights); the C213 Papplewick Lane (on the section from the Ashfield Boundary to Moor Road); and the B6003 Toton Lane, Stapleford/Toton (from the A52 to Westerlands)
• Resurfacing on the A6191 Chesterfield Road South, Mansfield and surface dressing on the A6191 Rock Hill, Mansfield to prevent further deterioration of this road and thereby avoid very expensive resurfacing repairs in the future.

• Works on Westbrook Drive, Rainworth and Larkfield Road, Nuthall, continuing the work targeting those roads which form the ‘spine’ of housing estates
• Structural patching on Tollerton Lane, Tollerton and Lower Kirklington Road, Southwell to restore the surface condition ahead of surface dressing in a future year’s programme.

Road safety improvements

As well as the education delivered by the county council for all road users, a programme of safety engineering schemes are being developed to help address reported road traffic injury accidents. In 2019/20 these include:

• Surfacing treatments at the B6019 Kirkby Lane, Pinxton; Town Street, Bramcote; Baulker Lane, Farnsfield; and the A60 Bunny Hill
• Signing/lining improvements at B6021 Low Moor Road (north of Southwell Lane), Kirkby-in-Ashfield; A614 / A638 Hawks Nest gyratory, Bawtry; B684 Mapperley Plains / Coppice Rd, Arnold; and the A606 Melton Road / Station Road, Widmerpool
• Speed management measures at A638 London Road (south of Elm Walk), Retford; Church Street, Eastwood; and Sherbrook Road, Arnold
• Junction improvements at Leeming Street and Clumber Street, Mansfield.

Improving local journey time delays
The County Council develops a co-ordinated package of measures to address journey time delays that includes pedestrian, public transport and cycling improvements as well as capacity improvements. In 2019/20, these improvements include:

• Traffic signal improvements to reduce delays for drivers at the A60 Sir John Robinson Way junction, Daybrook and at the A60 Larch Farm crossroads (A60 Nottingham Road/B6020 Kirkby Road/B6020 Main Road junction) in Ravenshead
• More than 10 pedestrian crossings to help people walk to local shops and other services, including new crossings in Arnold, Gedling, Jacksdale, Tuxford, and Worksop
• Targeted bus improvements to increase bus patronage by improving journey times and reliability of services, including bus stop clearway programmes in Ashfield, Bassetlaw, Gedling, Mansfield and Rushcliffe districts
• Department for Transport funded travel planning advice for residents, workers, jobseekers and school leavers in Mansfield and Newark to make them more aware of their travel choices.

Coun Cottee added: “As well as the continued focus on these key areas outlined, we have some major infrastructure projects in progress over the next 12 months and it will be exciting to see how these schemes – which will bring vital benefits to the communities they serve – progress over this period.”

Among the main infrastructure projects are:

• Continuation of the £40m Gedling Access Road project. The GAR will be a 3.8km stretch of road linking the existing A612 Trent Valley Road/ Nottingham Road to Mapperley Plains (B684). The GAR is being delivered by the County Council and Via East Midlands in partnership with Homes England (HE), Gedling Borough Council and Keepmoat Homes, housing developer for the Chase Farm site, which are all helping to fund the new road.
• Plans to transform Southwell’s flood defences as part of a £5m Flood Alleviation Scheme are continuing and are expected to be completed by spring 2021, benefiting around 240 properties and 60 businesses.

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See behind the scenes of Britain’s biggest road building project

New street lights for Telford will save £500,000

New energy-efficient street lights will save Telford and Wrekin half a million pounds and pay for themselves within the first year, according to the borough’s transport chief.

The installation of the LED bulbs is part of a £34million roads upgrade package, contained within the council’s 2019-21 transport budget, which will also see £12.5million spent on road repairs.

The street light switchover will cost a one-off £437,000 with £100,000-a-year maintenance.

The two-year capital programme report, written by highways delivery manager Dominic Proud and contained within the borough’s service and financial plan, will be discussed by councillors this week.

Mr Proud writes: “The council’s new street lighting contract is supported by a major two-year £5.3million investment in upgrading street lighting to LEDs across the borough, helping to reduce our energy costs by nearly half a millions pounds per annum and improve the quality of lighting at the same time. This programme is now close to completion.”

The 2019-21 transport capital plan also includes £5.4million on structures maintenance. and £1.5million for the upkeep of footpaths and £970,000 for drainage maintenance.

Mr Proud writes: “The New Town status of Telford means that much of the infrastructure is deteriorating at a similar rate and is now coming to the end of its useful life.” Spending now, he argues, will prevent the need arising for more drastic work and emergency repairs in the future.

Telford and Wrekin Services, who have been the borough’s highways maintenance contractor for 18 years, will hand the job over to Balfour Beatty Living Places on April 1.

Mr Proud writes: “The new contract will provide significant benefits through better performance management, a focus on getting things right first time as well as providing £1.4m of savings over the course of the contract.

“In addition to this the contract will bring significant social value benefits including growing the current workforce from 14 to 31 full-time equivalents, providing three apprenticeships and one graduate placement.”

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New road to cut Worcester congestion

A new dual carriageway is predicted to halve peak journey times along the A4440 and pave the way for up to 5,600 new homes.

Roads Minister Jesse Norman today (1 March 2019) approved almost £55 million of government funding for the Southern Link Road.

The major project, alongside the existing Carrington Bridge, will provide much needed congestion relief for residents and businesses, while boosting jobs and economic growth in areas like Great Malvern by transforming access to the M5.

This will also improve access to Birmingham International Airport and Worcestershire Parkway Station, creating better journeys for commuters and supporting the creation of more than 6,000 jobs.

Roads Minister Jesse Norman said:

“The government is investing record amounts to improve journeys in our towns and cities, boosting local economies.

This new road will help improve everyday journeys in and around Worcester, easing traffic for local people in Worcestershire and Herefordshire, as well as supporting thousands of new homes and jobs.”

The dual carriageway will connect the M5 to the west of Worcestershire and Herefordshire, and provide a congestion-busting bypass to Worcester city centre, set to cut average journey times along the A4440 in both directions during peak hours in the opening year.

The bypass will also help improve air quality, and will also see 2 new bridges, new cycle and pedestrian routes as well as junction improvements.

Worcestershire County Council’s Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Economy and Infrastructure, Councillor Ken Pollock, said:

“This is great news for Worcestershire! We welcome this announcement of funding approval which paves the way for the final phase of the scheme to fully dual the Southern Link Road from the M5 to the Powick Roundabout.

Works on this important and much needed final phase will see Carrington Bridge extended and 1.5km of viaduct being built between the Ketch and Powick roundabouts. We look forward to sharing further details about this final phase which also includes an improved Ketch Viewpoint and underpass in addition to a footbridge over Hams Way in the next couple of weeks.”

Worcestershire County Council is contributing £7.5 million to the £62 million scheme.

The government funding comes from the Large Local Majors Fund, providing vital infrastructure for economic growth.

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