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Trouble with spray

The letter from Lewis J Patterson (NCE 8 July) regarding the poor surface damage characteristics of the recently completed sections of the M74 is very pertinent.

I recently travelled northwards on the southern section of the M74 in torrential rain conditions. The clouds of spray thrown up by heavy goods vehicles travelling in the inside lane made attempts at overtaking verge on the suicidal. It was clear that water was not draining from the running surface.

These heavy spray showers persisted for ten to fifteen minutes after the rain had ceased.

Will the engineers concerned at the Scottish Office imitate remedial works to improve the drainage before Mr Patterson's worst fears of aquaplaning and skating rink conditions are realised?

WJ Greig (F), 10 Mannofield, Bearsden, Glasgow G61 4AY

A449: Return of the jaded

Ian Askew's response (NCE last week) to my earlier letter about the A449 makes interesting use of facts, but raises more questions than it answers. Without wishing to condone road deaths, were the five deaths in the past three years all in one vehicle and therefore the error of one driver, or in five unrelated accidents? If over the next three years a further five people die, should the 'remedial measures' be deemed to have failed and the entire road reinstated to dual carriageway? Were the deaths due to speed alone or in combination with other factors?

Indeed I was aware the road had a high accident rate, but due to right turns across oncoming traffic, not speed alone. Many right turns have now been prohibited or segregated right turn lanes created, although in my opinion at unnecessary expense to efficient traffic flow.

My original letter was simply borne from my frustration as in my opinion yet another road was traffic-calmed (no matter what Mr Askew says) inappropriately and caused slower traffic.

Anyone is free to travel along the road, make their own opinions and see some 'facts' for themselves.

Giles Darling (G),

Nuke point

I should like to correct a couple of points which give a misleading impression in Andrew Mylius's otherwise excellent article on the upgrading of the docks used to refuel and refit nuclear submarines at Devonport (NCE last week).

The article states that the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate revised the seismic standards for nuclear installations after the MoD decided to develop Devonport in 1993. In fact, the requirement for installations to be designed to withstand one in 10,000 year natural hazards is contained in HSE's Safety Assessment Principles for Nuclear Plants published in 1992. This publication followed extensive consultation on the draft principles with the nuclear industry, including the dockyard licensees.

Further on, the article refers to the Nuclear Inspectorate and the Health & Safety Executive as though they were separate bodies. HMNI is, of course, part of HSE's Nuclear Safety Directorate.

Philip Bradford, head of engineering assessment - defence related sites, Health & Safety Executive, St Peter's House, Stanley Precinct, Bootle, Merseyside L20 3LZ

Down time

I refer to the letter from Ian Wishart (NCE 8 July) commenting on previous letters dealing with the computer based analysis of delays. Mr Wishart takes issue about the amount of delay produced by opposing experts in an arbitration, which in his company's view did not reflect the contractor's entitlement.

This is an interesting subject which, given its fundamental importance to construction claims, does not receive the publicity it deserves.

In an earlier letter , Martin Barnes says that it is best to start a computer based analysis of delay with an 'as-built' programme (NCE 27 May). However, in my experience it is rare to find that a logic linked as-built programme has been prepared during the construction period and it is very difficult to create one later from the records.

It is often more practicable to start an analysis with the approved contract programme and add to this programme those delays which are at the employer's risk. Adjustments to the logic can be made to reflect the contractor's actual sequencing of construction

and any mitigation measures that he might have taken. This approach works best when relatively few adjustments are required, namely when the actual progress reasonably reflects the planned progress.

The approach automatically gives dominance to the employer delays, and most legal commentators consider this is the correct way to deal with the time element of concurrent delays.

Mr Wishart may not be able to elaborate further on his claim, but I would welcome a debate on the methods of delay analysis used by practitioners and, more interestingly, that have been accepted by tribunals.

JF Pragnell (M), Gibb, Gibb House, London Road, Reading, Berkshire RG6 1BL

Dressing down

The article by Neil Doyle in last week's Contractors File gave the impression that Ringway had purchased the surface dressing division of Colas.

I am happy to tell you that the surface dressing business in Colas is alive and well, and we are presently engaged in contracts all over the UK. What is more, Colas offers a wider range of surface treatments than any other company in the road maintenance industry, and has a major market share of this sector.

I hope that this sets the record straight for our staff, and for our customers.

Allan Mowatt (F), director, Colas, Rowfant, Crawley, West Sussex RH10 4NF

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