Hampshire Now - your County Council magazine

When the chips are down, drive carefully

Wednesday, 2 July 2013

Work to prolong the life of hundreds of miles of Hampshire's roads and make them safer is underway.

Surface dressing - spraying the road with hot bitumen and applying a thin layer of stone chippings - is preventative work to ensure roads stay in good condition for longer before major works are required. As it costs less than full resurfacing, it means the highways budget can be deployed across a greater proportion of Hampshire's 7,800 miles of roads and footways with the more expensive treatments focused on sites where full resurfacing is most needed. The process can only be carried out in warmer and drier conditions with the summer months generally being the peak period for the surface dressing programme.

Around 220 miles of carriageways and footways are treated each year, helping prevent deterioration and potholes by sealing the surface to prevent water getting in and also improving grip for drivers. Potholes and other defects are also treated ahead of the surface dressing work at each site making the treatment a cost effective way of keeping roads in a good condition. Surface dressing needs to be carried out on average every ten years, depending on traffic volume and skid resistance requirements.

Although the chippings are rolled as part of the process, allowing traffic on the road immediately after treatment helps 'bed in' the chips. Loose chippings are swept from the carriageway within 24 hours and again after three days and seven days. However, drivers should take care and keep to the temporary speed limits which are signed along roads which have been treated, as some loose chippings will still be on the road until swept up. Residents are also advised to inspect their shoes before entering their homes or vehicles as chippings may caught on them.

Councillor Seán Woodward, Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment said: "Surface dressing is part of a package of measures we use to maintain and improve our roads. The programme complements Operation Resilience, our long term planned structural maintenance programme that makes our roads more resilient to high traffic volumes and severe weather. Alongside the planned works the Council will continue to work to fix safety defects to restore roads following the prolonged cold weather last winter.

"Surface dressing is a vital element in maintaining our roads and extending their life. We try our best to keep delays to a minimum, including putting up advance warning signs on main roads to alert drivers, and sending leaflets to nearby residents asking them not to park their vehicles there that day. We do rely on people's co-operation to help us avoid delays and extra expense.

"We also try hard to coordinate work on busy roads at the quietest times, as we don't want to inconvenience drivers. Wherever possible we let traffic pass using stop/go boards if the road is wide enough. Sometimes weather conditions prevent us carrying out the work when planned.

Facts and figures:

  • Hampshire County Council spends about £3 million surface dressing approximately 300km (3%)of roads and 50km (1%) of footpaths each year.

  • Surface dressing, which improves grip and skid resistence, directly contributes to saving 10 lives across Hampshire each year and reduces the overall number of accidents by 40%.

  • About 2,600 tonnes of bitumen emulsion (bitumen and water) is sprayed onto the road each year.

  • 14% of the 16,000 tonnes of aggregate used each year are from a recycled source.

  • It costs about £16,000 per mile to surface dress the carriageway, £10,000 per mile for footpaths.

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