Buckinghamshire Council has embarked on work to tackle some of the most damaged rural roads in the county. In the first phase of this work, specialist machinery in being used to pulverise the old surface material and reuse it alongside new materials, a technique which reduces the council’s carbon footprint, saves money and resources and allows long-lasting repairs to be made more quickly.
The programme of work started earlier this month. In three phases, it will tackle some of the ‘failing roads’ where the filling and refilling of potholes is not enough to maintain the road surface to an adequate standard. These are generally more rural roads, originally simple tracks, that were never designed to carry the amount of traffic they now do. As traffic levels have increased over the years, the road surfaces have deteriorated and foundations subsided to such an extent that normal plane and patch repair work is not enough.
The works form part of the council’s £100m, four-year, Investing in your Roads programme. The council’s highways engineers identified the locations for this latest programme following technical assessments on site, in combination with identifying those roads which will not be tackled by external organisations as part of their work, such as HS2 or East West Rail. The technical assessments were used to rank all the roads previously highlighted as needing attention, into an order. Those receiving the highest scores were given priority to be included in the first phase of works.
In the first phase of works, four roads are being targeted:
- Chapel Lane/Akeley Road, Akeley
- Heet Road, Marsh Gibbon
- Marsh Gibbon Road, Edgcott
- Shipton Lee Road, Edgcott
The repair work is carried out using a process called Regen. It has been trialled previously in other parts of the county. Crews break up the existing road surface. These materials are then pulverised on site, spread out and compacted to create a level surface. A small amount of cement mixed with water, binds the materials together and creates a solid structure. The surface is then covered with bitumen and stone chippings, sealing it to prevent water getting in. The process is specifically designed for rural roads with a relatively low volume of traffic and would not be suitable on bigger roads with higher traffic flows.
The use of the new technique has multiple benefits:
- The whole process is significantly quicker than alternatives so reducing the inconvenience for local residents and road users
- It has a direct impact on improved air quality as there is no need to use hot asphalt
- By reusing materials instead of taking them away from the site by vehicle, it helps reduce our carbon footprint
- Using fewer materials also brings about significant savings. The cost is £22-£28 per square metre compared to £75-£100 per square metre for more conventional methods
Steven Broadbent, Cabinet Member for Transport explained: “The use of this recycling approach in this latest programme is a great example of where we are thinking differently to make the improvements we need while achieving value for money and environmental benefits too. Although it is not designed for larger roads, it is an approach that is ideal for some of the smaller roads where repairs are needed. It is just one element of our wider and longer term investment in Buckinghamshire’s roads, during which we will make use of the best techniques with available resources, to improve as many of our roads as possible for residents and road users.”
At other locations in this programme to tackle ‘failed roads’, more traditional road repair techniques will be used. All works will be clearly signposted and letters will be sent to all local residents and businesses to inform them of any local impact.