Northamptonshire County Council is trialling a bold approach to highways maintenance by turning country lanes on its network back into single carriageway roads with passing places.
Deputy director of highways David Farquhar told NCE’s UK Roads 2015 conference last week that the move was a practical approach focused on making a difference on the ground.
“It’s quite radical. But lot of the cost of maintenance is in repairing edge defects on roads not designed as two lane highways. So we have changed the language and badged them as green lanes, and as an initiative to stop rat runs,” he explained.
The approach is currently being trialled in areas where the local community was receptive to the idea.
Said Farquhar: “It’s totally community led. We pitched the idea to a number of communities, 50% thought it a good idea and 50% said it was stupid. So we’re trialling it on those who liked it. And the feedback so far is positive.”
It is one of a number of bold initiatives being rolled out by Northamptonshire as it moves towards preventative maintenance through good use of data, lifecycle planning and effective treatment strategies.
The county is also reducing the number of interventions it makes to improve road condition – but making sure the public is aware of it when it does go in for major maintenance.
“Often it is not about what you do but telling them [the public] when you are doing it,” said Farquhar. “We’ve found satisfaction levels go through the roof when you do,” he said.
The next step will be to simply impose temporary speed restrictions on badly potholed sections of highway until such time as it is economic to carry out a full repair – but again ensuring the restriction is well explained with signage.
“We are trying to move away from wasting money,” said Farquhar. “So our next steps are delaying winter maintenance and roads needing repairs until we can do proper repairs, with temporary speed limits where necessary.”