£12 Billion Backlog In Local Road Repairs

£12 Billion Backlog In Local Road Repairs

12th May 2022

The state of the nation’s local roads often hits the headlines and it seems that more must yet still be done to make them fit for purpose, with the latest Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance survey from the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) revealing a backlog of repairs in England and Wales of £12.64 billion.


Despite the fact that average highway maintenance budgets have risen, up four per cent on 2020/2021, the amount of investment in the carriageway has fallen, with the reported backlog climbing by 23 per cent compared to the previous 12 months.


Further findings include the fact that local councils would have required an additional £1 billion in 2021 to reach their own target road conditions, before even addressing the backlog.

In all, one pothole is filled every 19 seconds, while nearly one in five local roads could potentially need to be rebuilt within the next five years. Roads themselves are only resurfaced on average once every 70 years.

AIA chair Rick Green explained that while local authorities may have a legal responsibility to keep the roads safe, they lack the funds to do so “in a cost-effective, proactive way”. This has led to continued decline in the structure of the roads.

“Although surface repairs have a part to play in extending the life of local roads, short-term fixes, including filling potholes, is indicative of a network that is ‘on the edge’ and less efficient and sustainable when it comes to materials usage and whole-life carbon emissions,” he said.

Mr Green continued, noting that the recently announced three-year spend on maintenance in England is a “step in the right direction” but added that it doesn’t go far enough. Significant investment is required around the country to deliver a “safe, resilient sustainable network on which we can all rely”.

The study also revealed that the legacy of inconsistent funding across England and Wales is preventing engineers from providing long-term and cost-effective improvements for local roads. Instead, they are being forced to adopt a more piecemeal strategy, with patch and mend repairs taking place.

Further research from the UK Roads Liaison Group found that investment in the local road network would deliver a wide range of benefits, everything from helping the country achieve net zero and reducing pollution to improving biodiversity, supporting economic growth, helping with climate change adaptation and supporting accessibility and inclusion.

As the organisation emphasised in its report, England’s local road network is fundamental to life, now and well into the future. It is the public sector’s biggest physical asset, valued at nearly half a trillion pounds. Almost every journey begins and ends on a local road and if these roads did not exist, the economy would collapse to near zero.


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Road Resurfacing Postponed After Local Objections

Road Resurfacing Postponed After Local Objections

1st May 2022

Major resurfacing work on a stretch of road through a North Yorkshire town will be postponed after residents complained the disruption would affect business trade during its busy tourist season.

North Yorkshire County Council held a public meeting last week to discuss plans for full resurfacing of the A684 between Leeming Bar to Junction 37 on the M6, inviting designers, contractors, and members of the community to attend.

As a result of several people complaining the roadworks would occur at the start of the peak tourist season, impacting their business, the local authority decided to push the project back till autumn.

Highways Area manager Jayne Charlton said: “We hope the community can appreciate that there is no ideal time to carry out such extensive works. We have been able to extend the funding until the end of 2022, but we must balance public opinion with the risks that carrying out this type of work in the winter may bring.”

She went on to say that resurfacing roads during the winter can be “very problematic”, and as the work is urgent, the council wants to “avoid any unforeseen delays”.

The project will see the A684, which is currently in a poor condition, fully resurfaced, which will improve safety for all users.

Ms Charlton estimated the new start date for the job will be late September, avoiding major sheep sales at auction.

Despite the consideration of the local authority, some members of the public believe this is still an inconvenient time to commence work on the road.

Hawes B&B owner Fiona Gardham told Examiner Live this would still affect late-season bookings and the auction mart will still be busy at this time of the year.

“Last October we were full, and I have already got bookings in for October,” Ms Gardham stated, suggesting instead: “What the vast majority of businesses said at the meeting was that they wanted the work doing from Monday to Friday between November and February, when 90 per cent of our trade is at weekends.”

North Yorkshire County Council has been given £7.06 million for these improvements, as part of the Department for Transport’s Safer Roads Fund, which aims to repair the 50 most dangerous A-roads in the UK.

It was one of only four bids that were successful to receive finance from the Safer Roads Fund. Some of the money has already gone to installing a new flood detection system, which is the first one in Yorkshire. This has been fitted at flooding hotspots along the road.

Safety improvements have also been put in place at the crossroad junction to the west of Patrick Brompton, while changes to the layout and resurfacing work has been implemented in Leyburn, and new lay-bys have been built along the A684.

In addition to this, the local authority has been busy improving four junctions in Scarborough, as part of a £4 million scheme to ease congestion and make roads safer for drivers and pedestrians. The initiative is due to finish by the end of April, following resurfacing of the roads between March 28th and 30th.


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Resurfacing Works Complete Leeds Corn Exchange Project

Resurfacing Works Complete Leeds Corn Exchange Project

19th Apr 2022

The area around the landmark Leeds Corn Exchange has undergone an improvement project, and the finishing touches are being put in place with some resurfacing works. News Anyway reports that the project is due to be completed by the end of spring, weather permitting. When it is complete, the area will be partly pedestrianised,

The work will take place overnight to minimise disruption, with roads in the area closed to general traffic between 8pm and 5am. The renovations aim to the make the area more pedestrian and cycle friendly, with new cycle tracks and pedestrian crossings being installed, and pavements widened.

Traffic will be partially rerouted, and priority given to buses, with extra bus stop signage provided. Elsewhere, excess street clutter will be removed, and more greenery introduced. It is hoped that some spaces can be used for outdoor dining.

Councillor Helen Hayden, Leeds City Council’s executive member for infrastructure and climate said: “It’s exciting to see the final resurfacing works happening on this scheme. It gives these historic streets and buildings the surroundings it deserves whilst increasing opportunities for active travel and providing extra public space in the city centre.”

The works are part of the wider Connecting Leeds project, which is an ambitious scheme to reduce car dependence, and develop better park and ride, cycling, and public transport links. The aims are aligned with the Leeds City Region economic plan, and the Clean Air Leeds programme.

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire said: “The Corn Exchange is a real gem and is a beacon of culture and creativity, so it’s fantastic to see these changes, which will make the historic landmark more welcoming to the people of Leeds and visitors from far and wide.” 

She added: “Improving cycling, walking and public transport provisions form a key part of my pledge to tackle the climate emergency, so I’m also delighted that we are part of this scheme that will see more green spaces and provisions for active travel.” 

Leeds Corn Exchange is one of the city’s most recognisable buildings, which was built in 1863 for corn traders. The Grade I listed building, with a distinctive oval shape and domed roof, was designed by architect Cuthbert Brodrick, who was from nearby Hull. He was influenced by Parisian commercial buildings, and also designed Leeds town hall.

The domed glass roof was installed to provide good light to the trading floor, to help the traders assess the quality of the grain. Offices were added on a mezzanine level around the central floor. The grand building helped to put Leeds on the map as one of the principal corn markets for the north of England.

By the 1960s, the corn trade had declined, and by the 1980s, there were few occupants and the future of the building came under question. Fortunately, by 1990 it had been transformed into a high-end shopping centre. It is hoped that in the future, a pavilion area to host outdoor functions, shops and cafes can be added.


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Major New Business Park Planned At Airport

Major New Business Park Planned At Airport

4th Apr 2022

Plans have been unveiled for a new business park in the north east, located next to Teesside Airport in Darlington.

The £200 million project will eventually create over 4,000 jobs and act as a major industrial and logistics hub for the region, with the advantage of easy access to and from the A67. Plant hire firms in the north east will be getting involved very swiftly, as the initial site work is set to be completed in the summer of this year.

Construction work on phase one of the project will be starting in the next few weeks, with four new units and a new 1.5km through road to serve them being built. The project is part of the airport’s ten year business plan.

Welcoming news of the development, Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen said:  “I've always said our airport is about far more than just flights for business and pleasure, as important as these are.”

He continued: “For our airport to thrive we need to have a fantastic offering for local businesses and to attract firms from other parts of the UK and from around the world to come to our region.”

As Mr Houchen noted, the new development follows hard on the heels of the redevelopment of the terminal, which is almost finished, while the airport’s Bannatyne Spa - named after County Durham-based celebrity chef Duncan Bannatyne - has just opened.

The mayor said the “untapped potential” of the site was being demonstrated already by firms operating out of the airport like Draken and Willis, adding that the benefits of the airport business park will not just be felt by the businesses that operate there, “but provide funding that we can pump back into our airport to make it secure and profitable for years to come."

Teesside is one of the areas that may expect a lot of development funding over the next few years as an area identified as being in need of ‘levelling up’. The term, which has often been used to refer to heavily pro-Brexit ”left behind” areas in the so-called Red Wall of former Labour seats won by the Conservatives in the 2019 general election, is epitomised by this area.

In this area, seats like Middlesbrough South and Cleveland East, Darlington and nearby former mining seats like Bishop Auckland switched political allegiance, with Conservative MPs in these locations pushing hard for extra funding.

While these are not the only areas getting levelling up cash - solidly Labour Sheffield was named in the latest funding announcement - the fact is that Teesside has certainly been getting plenty of attention. Last year, a £20 million bid for levelling up cash on behalf of Yarm and Eaglescliffe was agreed by the Treasury, helping fund projects ranging from a new exhibition centre to cycle paths.

Other locations in the north east receiving money in the first round of funding included Bishop Auckland, for a transport infrastructure improvement project, as well as the Stockton-on-Tees town centre regeneration project.

Further funds could stimulate more building around the region, in addition to measures like moving the Treasury offices to Darlington

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When Cranes And Heavy Equipment Were Used To Play Giant Games

When Cranes And Heavy Equipment Were Used To Play Giant Games

19th Mar 2022

When most people opt for a crane hire, they quite literally mean business.

Heavy equipment is a vital part of nearly any modern construction project and cranes are the spine that helps put the rest of the pieces into place.

However, there are times when heavy equipment is used for more entertaining diversions, but even when playing games there is a purpose behind them.

Using a crane requires advanced training and exceptional skill, and many of the following games are tests of the capabilities of both crane and driver.

Here are some of the times cranes and other similar heavy lifting equipment were used to play rather large-scale games.


Jenga With Road Surfacing Equipment

Jenga is one of the simplest, tensest and most engaging games of dexterity out there, as you have a tower of wooden blocks that you need to carefully remove and stack on top.

However, the people at construction firm Caterpillar decided to scale the game up a little to test its range of construction vehicles, creating the world’s largest game of Jenga in the process.

The blocks were 8ft long, 32 inches wide and 16.25 inches higher, stacked up in the traditional Jenga arrangement, albeit with only nine layers rather than the traditional 18.

The game lasted 28 hours and ended after 16 rounds of block shuffling as the 14th layer collapsed.


Giant Conkers With Cranes

Industrial cranes are very versatile, can take on a variety of heavy loads and are used for a wide range of purposes on a construction site. They can also be used by rather less mature gentlemen to play a version of giant conkers.

In a somewhat famous segment of the BBC show Top Gear, two cranes are used to smash a half-dozen caravans painted to look like conkers into each other to see which one survived the impact, much like the game played with chestnuts.

The tower cranes were secured into place, and the heavy caravans were hoisted by hand to a mechanism that could quickly be released with the push of a big red button.


Life-Sized Mouse Trap

Most people are aware of the game Mouse Trap, where enterprising mice move across a board collecting cheese and building a Rube Goldberg-inspired contraption that ultimately captures one of the pieces.

A travelling show would actually build a version of the eponymous trap, complete with an elaborate crane mechanism used to lift a two-tonne safe that is used as part of the show’s more elaborate show-stopping stunts.


Battleship With Cranes

Similar to playing conkers with caravans, the strategic game of Battleship has also seen itself scaled up with the help of giant cranes.

On an episode of The Grand Tour, the largest game of Battleship was played on an airfield with a stack of shipping containers for a screen, a variety of differently sized cars for the ships and a fleet of small G-Wiz electric cars to serve as the missiles.

To ensure the missiles were dropped in the right place, rather than using an actual movie cannon, the pair playing used a pair of giant cranes instead, with expert drives to move the target to the right grid position.

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