This article is taken from the Association for Public Service Excellence's magazine, Direct News, after publication by proud Multihog customers Rotherham MBC.
Stephen Finley, principal engineer in Rotherham’s highway asset management team, describes the introduction of an effective way of carrying permanent repairs as part of the councils comprehensive safety defect reduction strategy.
Rotherham has a three pronged approach to highway maintenance
- Firstly, we ensure the highway is safe, with our eight highway inspectors carrying out cyclic safety inspections, responding to reports and ad-hoc inspections.
- Secondly, we record none dangerous defects such as ponding, surface fretting, surface stripping to feed in to the planned works programme.
- Thirdly we carry out highway maintenance on a ‘not worst first’ basis, which focuses on a programme of preventative maintenance and picks off the worst ones based on condition surveys, reports and consultation.
Solution to severe weather and increasing potholes with a reduced budget
The highways team at Rotherham has 1,139km of roads to take care of, half of which are in rural areas, and a series of severe winters has revealed the fragility of our network. The number of safety defects increased from 10,138 in 2007/8 to 32,530 in 2012/13. At the same time, our overall highways budget is reducing in 2014/15. We are therefore implementing a safety defect reduction strategy that aims to achieve efficient use of resources in the long term through better planning, prioritisation and carrying out permanent repairs where possible.
Implementing a safety defect reduction strategy
Prior to implementing a new approach to permanent repairs, we had two priorities for dealing with safety defects. Priority A were actionable defects with a very high risk of harm requiring repair within four hours of identification. Priority 1 were ‘normal' actionable defects requiring repair within 24 hours of identification, there were a number of weaknesses in the method being uses to do temporary repairs however. These included not always achieving first fix, quality not being satisfactory and the number of repeat repair rising as a result. Safety defects were arising frequently at the side of existing repaired defects and it was deemed that this was not efficient use of resources. We wanted to improve the planning of safety defect repairs, raise the quality and prevent future safety defects occurring close to existing safety defects.
48 hours for a permanent repair
In order to put some planning in place two new priorities were created. Priority X has a 48 hour response time to make a defect safe. Priority 5 has a 10 day response time and is a permanent repair. Our international insurance team, external insures, external solicitors and barristers experienced in highway third party claims all took the same view that the risk of extending the safety defect repair time to 48 hours was acceptable.
Stopping 'white finger'
Health and safety concerns over the traditional permanent repair method causing ‘white finger’ had stopped us doing permanent repairs in that way. So, in order to carry out permanent repairs in an acceptable way, our highways team took delivery of a piece of mobile equipment called a ‘Multihog’, earlier this year.
The road legal Multihog can be fitted with various attachments. We have purchased the winter and milling pack, which has been in use since January 2013, and has been very successful in dealing with small carriageway patches.
Its versatility will lend itself to carrying out permanent repairs to potholes. Our delivery team of 45 in house staff have had the training on site to use this method and came up with ideas for refining patch size during trials.
No repeat potholes
A major benefit of using this permanent repair method with the Multihog planer is that we don’t get repeat potholes in the same location. Another is that the repair is more neatly shaped. The normal cost of each temporary pot hole is £15, whereas this cost is £35-£40 per square metre for a permanent repair, making it more cost effective in the long term. An additional plus is that the Multihog can have a plough fitted on the front and a gritter on the back to support winter maintenance work on small side roads such as those leading to primary schools.
We don’t know any other councils who are doing permanent repairs in the same way and have had a lot of interest from other authorities. We believe it is an effective way of carrying out permanent repairs as part of the councils overall safety defect reduction strategy.
For more information on Rotherham MBC's Multihog methodology to a more efficient approach to pothole repairs click here for the original case study developed in conjunction with the Council, and for anything else please contact:
01254 703212 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Satisfied Customers: Multihog Director Nick leadley (left) with Stephen Tindall (centre) and David Hepworth (right).