Investing in Hampshire’s roads for the long run
Following the successful completion of Operation Restore which, in six months, resurfaced and repaired 62 miles of road in over 200 separate locations, Operation Resilience hit the roads in April. This is the next stage of a long term strategy to effectively ‘future-proof’ Hampshire’s road network, making them more resilient to the effects of extreme weather, such as snow and ice and increasingly heavy traffic.
There is a dedicated team made up of staff from the County Council, the maintenance contractor Amey and sub-contractor Tarmac. Stuart Giddings heads up the project and tells us more about it
Why is the council embarking on Operation Resilience?
Good roads are a vital component of Hampshire’s infrastructure, essential for economic progress and the county’s prosperity. Operation Resilience is an investment in Hampshire’s roads for the long term and marks a substantial shift from reactive to planned maintenance – which is much more cost effective in the long run.
Where will we see progress?
Many of the sites in the programme are targeting smaller roads, often in rural locations. A lot of roads in the countryside are sometimes old tracks built up over the years with overlays of tar and chippings. This makes them susceptible to damage from traffic and bad weather and, of course, they were never designed to cope with the amount, or weight, of traffic on the roads that there is today. These roads are, however, often the main routes in and out of a village and vital to the community, so it is essential they are well looked after. Operation Resilience is for the whole of Hampshire and includes urban as well as rural areas.
What exactly is the work you are doing?
We are carrying out a variety of maintenance treatments based around extending the resilience and life of the road network. These repairs range from structural repairs to road foundations and restoring skid resistance. We are also resurfacing and putting in new highways drainage – increasing capacity by installing new gullies, soakaways and ditches, as well as renewing pipe runs to improve drainage systems. These are designed to cope with the more intense storms which are increasingly likely in the UK as our climate changes.
How do you decide where you’re going to carry out work?
Generally, a ‘worst first’ approach is taken. Each site is assessed against criteria, such as how often we’ve had to do individual repairs there, how many defect reports there have been, if it is an area which experiences surface water problems and our own technical assessments of the structural and surface condition of the road.
Are there any road closures because of the work?
I’m afraid so – it is just not possible to carry out the type of works needed on some roads without closing them, but we try to keep this to the absolute minimum. We also try to give advanced notice of road closures locally but please also visit www.hants.gov.uk/roads for up to date information so you can plan your journeys accordingly. Alternatively, you can call 0845 603 5633.
How will we know where you are planning to work and if we need to adjust our journeys?
The programme on our website is always completely up to date and we write to residents nearby about planned work. However, timescales do sometimes have to be moved if we get a bout of bad weather or we see that, once we open the road up, repair works are going to be more complicated than anticipated. The local newspapers, radio stations, parish and town councils are always kept informed, and changes and reminders of work will also be put out on the County Council’s Hantsconnect twitter feed.
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