Call to reduce disruption during utility works 12 Jul 2018

Pipe Jacking Association News Release

Urban road congestion caused by utility installation in the UK is being looked at by a consortium that includes the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) and the RAC (Royal Automobile Club) Foundation. It is urging the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) and Department for Transport to take action.

The initiative was proposed by the Pipe Jacking Association, which specialises in the non-disruptive installation of utilities in urban locations, with contributions from the UK Society for Trenchless Technology and the Birmingham University Department of Civil Engineering, a leader in research into non-disruptive trenchless systems for the installation of utilities.

Reduced worksite size means less disruption
Reduced worksite size means less disruption

“We believe that the NIC is responsive to a progressive outcome-based solution to minimise strategic urban road disruption caused by utility roadworks," said Graeme Monteith, Pipe Jacking Association Chair. "Non-disruptive solutions need to be prioritised in the interests of road users, local communities and other stakeholders wherever practicable and economical.”

In an open letter to Sir John Armitt, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, PJA Chair Monteith, on behalf of the consortium, outlined the conflict between the need to install and upgrade essential utilities and the requirement for a continuous fully operational urban road network. It noted that key urban highways, as important strategic infrastructure, lack coherent protection and management unlike other major transport networks such as those operated by Highways England and Network Rail.

The report noted the need to safeguard key urban roads and suggested that utility installers produce impact statements when carrying out works in congested urban areas, allowing highway authorities to intervene and suggest the least disruptive option wherever practical and economical. It also recommended further development of innovative technologies that could enable utility installation and renovation with minimal or no disruption to the highway infrastructure.

The consortium urged the NIC to look at pressures on urban road capacity in its forthcoming infrastructure assessment and suggested that the Government commission a review of the management of street works to include economic impacts of disruption and appropriate regulatory incentives for utility companies to minimise the disruption caused by street works and to consider availability, costs and benefits of the engineering options that exist to avoid breaking the carriageway at all. It suggested that such a review would need to draw in not just the perspectives of highway authorities and contractors but also the utility companies and their regulators.

The initiative was sparked by a policy paper from Professor Lord Robert Mair, President of the Institution of Civil Engineers titled What can be done to reduce congestion caused by roadworks?

“Congestion continues to be a major headache for road users and it is essential that industry and Government look at ways to lessen the problem,” said Lord Mair. "It is important that the users, many of whom are tax payers, are considered equally alongside the need for the utility companies to undertake their work."


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