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Utilities ordered to pay for shoddy road reinstatements

UTILITIES FIRMS in Liverpool this week faced a huge bill for making good hundreds of millions of pounds of shoddy highway reinstatement work.

Highway maintenance contractors in the city have discovered that 43km of reinstatement work has failed to meet the specification.

The problem applies to all the city's concrete paved roads which account for 3% of its 1,420km highway network.

Reinstatements that fail to meet the engineering specification for rigid concrete pavements are not legally considered to have started their guarantee period, said John Harrison, strategy manager at highway maintenance contractor Enterprise Liverpool.

As a result, the statutory undertaker is obliged to make good the defective work, he said.

Reinstatements cost upward of £250/m2 on principal roads and £120/m2 on unclassified roads. Many of the 10,000 reinstatements in Liverpool cover areas as great as 300m2 .Liverpool's concrete paved roads are made up of an aggregate base layer, a 250mm to 300mm layer of structural concrete and up to 100mm of asphalt.

Harrison wants statutory undertakers to re-do all the reinstatements they have carried out on concrete roads in the past decade and has threatened court action if they do not.

Enterprise Liverpool is a joint venture between the city council and streetworks contractor Enterprise.

It ordered a survey of utility company reinstatements last May after concerns were raised over poor quality.

A ground penetrating radar (GPR) inspection of 106 randomly selected concrete road reinstatements, concluded last month.

The survey, by GPR specialist Aperio, showed that 105 reinstatements failed to meet engineering specifications. The other one failed quality tests.

'We knew we had a big problem with rigid reinstatements but were just amazed that, basically, all of them failed, ' said Harrison.

'There are 10,000 plus concrete reinstatements that have been carried out over the last 10 years? we believe that all of them are substandard.'

These included:

failure to reinstate with concrete and using asphalt laid over compacted rubble instead

use of wrong strength concrete

failure to use mesh reinforcement

use of the wrong kind of reinforcement

failure to dowel the reinstatement into the surrounding concrete.

'There's concern about the quality of flexible and rigid reinstatements nationally, ' confirmed chairman of the County Surveyors' Society (CSS) northern soils and materials working group Roger Elphick.

CSS, the Department for Transport and research house TRL have just started a year long research programme into the extent of reinstatement problems across the UK.

Aperio managing director John Baston-Pitt estimated that, averaged across the country, concrete pavements make up 5% to 10% of local authority roads.

But Harry Pendleton, chairman of the National Joint Utilities Group, the association for statutory undertakers, said he did not believe there were widespread problems with concrete reinstatements.

'It must be a localised issue.

I haven't heard about it, ' he said.

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