Preparatory work is beginning on the government's programme to install quieter surfaces on over 60% of the motorway and strategic road network in England, including all concrete stretches,the Highways Agency has announced.
The Highways Agency, which operates motorways and other strategic roads in England, has begun consulting local authorities on the criteria to be used to prioritise the programme to apply quieter surfacing to all concrete roads.
Richard Thorndike, the agency's network and customer services director, said: 'The agency has today written to all local authorities that have trunk roads seeking comments by 23 March 2001 on the criteria it proposes to apply to prioritise the surfacing of concrete roads, to meet the government's target that all concrete roads be surfaced with quieter materials within 10 years. The agency will carefully consider all responses and will publish its final criteria in due course.'
Sections of concrete roads that are planned to be surfaced with quieter materials in the next financial year, beginning in April 2001 are M5, part of carriageway between J26-27; M25 J26 to J27; A1 Winthorpe to North Muskham; M42 J9 to J10 (northbound); M27 J2-4 (both directions); and A12, part of the section from M25 to Witham,
1. The government announced the programme in Transport 2010 - The 10 Year Plan, published in July 2000.
2. The agency is an executive agency of the DETR, which manages, maintains and improves the network of trunk roads and motorways in England on behalf of the secretary of state. It works closely with other transport operators and with local authorities to integrate the trunk road network with the rest of England's roads and other forms of transport.
3. Copies of the consultation letter to local authorities attached.
4. A map showing all concrete roads on the Agency's strategic roads network is available on the Highways Agency website www.highways.gov.uk.
Letter to local authorities
RESURFACING OF CONCRETE ROADS WITH QUIETER SURFACING: PROPOSED CRITERIA FOR PRIORITISATION
I am writing to seek your comments on the criteria that the Highways Agency is proposing to use for establishing the programme to apply quieter surfacing to all concrete roads.
In the government's 'Transport 2010 - The Ten Year Plan' published in July 2000, the agency was set the target of installing quieter surfaces on over 60% of the trunk road network, including all concrete stretches over the next ten years.
This reinforces the government's recognition that traffic noise is a concern for many
people and reiterates its commitment given in 'A new deal for trunk roads in England' in July 1998. This document contained the statement that 'In future, whenever a road needs to be resurfaced, we shall ensure that the most appropriate noise reducing surfaces are used for those areas where noise is a particular concern.'
Appendix A, attached, contains the proposed criteria for resurfacing of concrete roads together with a map showing the locations of concrete carriageways and our planned resurfacing programme for April 2001 to March 2002. This document is issued on a consultative basis and is a step towards achieving the Government's objectives for resurfacing concrete roads with quieter materials. The criteria are only applicable to roads for which the Secretary of State is the highway authority. For your reference, Appendix B contains a list of organisations that are being consulted.
You are invited to comment on the proposed criteria by 23 March 2001. This document is also published on our website www.highways.gov.uk to allow other interested parties to comment as well. I would be grateful if you could reference your comments to the appropriate paragraph number. Responses should be sent to: John Byrne, Highways Agency, Highways Programme Development Services, Room 13/22, St
Christopher House, Southwark Street, London SE1 0TE, fax: 020 7921 4897, e-mail: email@example.com
Responses received may be published, and copies could be obtained by writing to John Byrne at the above address, unless respondents have asked for them to be treated as confidential.
If you have any concerns or complaints about this process, please do not hesitate to write to me personally.
Network Customer Services
Introduction: The Government's Policy
1. In 'Transport 2010 - The 10 Year Plan', published in July 2000, the government set the agency the target to install quieter surfaces on over 60% of the network, including all concrete stretches. It is estimated that 3 million people living within 600m of a trunk road will benefit from this measure.
2. Prior to the Ten Year Plan, the government made a commitment to reduce the impact of traffic noise on trunk roads and their policy on traffic noise had been outlined in 'A New Deal for Trunk Roads in England' of July 1998. This stated that:
* all proposals to build new roads or improve existing ones significantly are carefully assessed to establish potential noise impacts. Noise maps are drawn up for each proposal showing the noise levels at nearby properties both with and without the scheme. Average noise levels are calculated from forecasts of traffic flow
and speed on all roads in the area;
* a large proportion of traffic noise comes from the interaction between tyres and road surfaces and considerable efforts are being made to reduce this;
* the noise arising from the newest quieter surfaces, compared to the more traditional ones, is about the same as if the amount of traffic had been halved. Development is continuing to improve the noise reduction properties of these surfaces and extend their useful life;
* quieter road surfaces will be specified in future works as a matter of course.
The Role of the Highways Agency:
3. The Highways Agency is an executive agency of the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions and fulfils the Secretary of State's responsibilities for the day to day management and operation of the trunk road network which consists of nearly all motorways and the more important A class roads in England. The Agency has been considering the best ways of translating the Government's commitment to resurface 60% of the network with quieter surfacing over the next ten years into a forward programme. This entails the resurfacing of some 2500 miles of trunk roads, including all concrete stretches, with quieter surfacing by the end of March 2011.
4. The Agency is committed to using quieter surfacing, as a matter of course, whenever a road needs to be resurfaced as part of its ongoing maintenance programme and it is anticipated that at least 55% of blacktop roads will have been resurfaced by March 2011.
5. When substantial structural maintenance is needed for concrete roads over the next ten years, they will be resurfaced with quieter materials. However, many concrete roads, which constitute about 250 miles of our network, will not require such maintenance in that period and to establish the priority of these roads for resurfacing the following criteria are proposed:
* dealing with the noisiest sites that affect the most people; this means that we will endeavour to improve the situation for the maximum number of people who are closest to trunk roads in the earlier part of the programme;
* minimising disruption to general public and users of the network; this means that we will try to combine this work with other planned works on the network and use construction, procurement and traffic management methods that speed up the works;
* minimising whole life cost, i.e. providing the right treatment at the right time with minimum disruption, of the asset and achieving value for money; we have a duty to protect the taxpayers interest and wherever possible will try to programme works to fit in with maintenance needs.
6. It is recognised that in some instances these criteria may be in conflict. The Agency therefore proposes:
* where maintenance is to be undertaken during the ten year period quieter surfacing will be used. This represents best value for money since maintenance is scheduled to minimise whole life costs;
* for those lengths of carriageway which would not be subject to maintenance during the ten year period priorities would be set according to:
* the number of residential properties affected by traffic noise and their closeness to the road aiming to give priority to schemes which bring relief to the largest number of people;
* the severity of the traffic noise; and
* phasing resurfacing with other developments or works that may be undertaken on the network in order to ensure that any disruption to traffic is minimised and represents value for money.
7. The Agency will finalise their approach in the light of comments received, and publish in due course an indicative programme of works involving resurfacing concrete roads with quieter surfacing.
The Organisations that are being consulted:
1. All County Councils in England
2. All District Council in England
3. London Boroughs affected by trunk roads
4. Transport for London
5. All Unitary Councils in England
6. All City Councils in England
7. All Metropolitan Councils in England
8. All Borough Councils in England
9. Local Government Association