"Item 7 Winter Maintenance Operations"
Report to Scrutiny Item Number: 7 Contains Confidential or No Exempt Information Subject of Report: Winter Maintenance Operations Meeting: Transport & Environment Standing Scrutiny Panel 24th March 2010 Shahid Iqbal, Assistant Director of Highways Service report author: Tel: 0208 8825 7802 Email: Iqbalsp@ealing.gov.uk Scrutiny officer: Keith Fraser. Head of Scrutiny firstname.lastname@example.org 020 8825 7497 Cabinet Responsibility: Regeneration & Transport – Cllr David Millican Director Responsibility: Roger Jones, Director of Environment and Leisure, Winter maintenance is important in terms of both the economy and road safety. This report outlines the Brief: management and implementation of winter maintenance operations. 1. Recommended Action It is recommended that the Transport & Environment Scrutiny Panel: i) Note the content of this report 1 2. Legal Implications It is a requirement of the Highways Act 1980 (section 150) that Highway Authorities are required to remove obstructions arising from an accumulation of snow. In addition, by virtue of section 41(1A) of the 1980 Act Highway Authorities have a duty of care to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that safe passage along a highway is not endangered by snow or ice. 3. Financial Implications There are no financial considerations arising directly from this report 4. Winter Maintenance Programme – General Policy 4.1 There are both road safety and economic reasons for carrying out winter maintenance. It is carried out to ensure the safe movement of highway users and is economically significant because of the delays that bad weather can cause. Winter Maintenance involves the treating of highways to: Prevent ice forming, known as ‘precautionary salting’ Melt ice and snow already formed, known as ‘post salting’ Remove snow, known as ‘snow clearance’. The Council produces a winter maintenance plan (WMP) each year that outlines how Ealing will manage its road network to ensure that hazards from ice and snow are mitigated. The document is considered a live document and is reviewed throughout the season. This process has been in place for over 15 years. The WMP is in operation between 1 November 2009 and 30 April 2010. 4.2 The Professional Services Contract for the Management of Traffic, Transportation and Highways Maintenance contains a function to manage the Highways Winter Maintenance operation. This function includes carrying out: The pre planning of the service, Reviewing the adequacy of the works contractor, Provide an out of hours standby service (Duty Officer) in the period 1 November to 30 April, Receive and monitor weather forecasts, Inspect, coordinate, monitor and control the service, Carry out inspections, Carry out the financial control of the service, Carry out an annual review of the service. 4.3 The provider of the Professional Services Contract is Mouchel plc and the works contractor for carrying out the precautionary salting, post salting and snow clearance work is Murrill Construction Ltd. Murrill Construction Ltd also provides the equipment to carry out the works 2 operation as well as keeping a stock of 4500 tonnes of salt. The weather forecasting (a detailed 24 hour, 5 day ahead and consultancy service) is provided to Mouchel plc by the Met. (Meteorological) Office under their open road service. 4.4 The WMP divides the borough road networks into 4 groups and prioritises how these are gritted for freezing temperatures or snow conditions. The 4 groups are outlined below: Primary Routes: These are the roads managed by Ealing within the borough and provide the transport network and routes around the borough and are gritted when the ground temperature reaches zero degrees. (Please note Primary routes include all bus routes). Primary routes amount to 174km of the road network within Ealing. Secondary routes: These are the roads within the borough linking main and secondary distributor roads or roads with frequent junctions and are only gritted when we have snow, not at zero temperature. Secondary routes amount to 162km of the road network within Ealing. Primary Footway areas: These are special areas / places within the borough that are significant to residents and the economy of Ealing so that normal day-to-day activities can continue. These areas consist of transport hubs, schools, hospitals, town centre areas and shopping parades. The gritting of these areas will take place only in settled snow conditions. Primary Footway areas amount to 65km of the footway network within Ealing. Resilience Network: Actioned only when grit stocks run low and is the minimum road network within Ealing that the Local Government Association believe is required to be gritted to keep London moving. Resilience routes amount to 60km of road network within Ealing, and do not cover the majority of the bus routes that run through Ealing. 5. WEATHER CONDITIONS – WINTER SEASON 09/10 5.1 December 2009 was the coldest for 14 years; the mean UK temperature for the month was 2.1 °C, significantly lower than the long- term average for the reference period 1971-2000 of 4.2 °C. 5.2 Not only were temperatures low in December but also heavy snow in the third week was followed by low temperatures in the fourth week and additional snowfalls in the first week of January 2010. The weather reported has now been confirmed as the coldest winter since 1981-82. 6. OPERATIONS CARRIED – WINTER SEASON 09/10 3 61. When the accumulation of snow was forecast the first priority was to ensure that the primary road network as defined in the WMP is gritted prior to that accumulation occurring. Each time snow accumulation was forecast the gritting operation took a minimum of two hours but this was obviously dependent on traffic conditions. Once this was completed the secondary network was gritted, and this took around four hours. Therefore to grit the entire network, both primary and secondary, took a minimum of six hours. This process during the severe weather conditions was repeated. 6.2 The primary footway areas within the WMP were gritted once snow had accumulated. The council used both its highway works contractor and street cleansing resources to carry out footway gritting and clearance at those locations defined in the WMP. Each time the operation was carried out it took a minimum of eight hours using approximately 30 gangs. One footway gritting operation on average uses 150 tonnes of grit and is carried out manually. 6.3 Operations during the two occurrences of snow accumulation either side of Christmas 2009 (the peak of the severe weather), were successfully carried out, with the prime objective of keeping the primary and secondary road networks open, these operations also included footway clearance and it is officers’ view this was a success; a simple indicator of this is that we did not receive a single request from the emergency services or bus operators for additional gritting operations on those contained within the WMP. 6.4 In addition, the 1980 Highway Act defines our responsibilities with regard to winter maintenance operations and we are confident that our obligations are being fulfilled. 7. IMPLICATIONS OF TREATING THE WHOLE OF THE NETWORK 7.1 Whilst some residents and members may have aspirations that the council should treat the entire network this would not be feasible in terms of cost, resources and practicalities as detailed below: - The somewhat extreme variations of this country’s weather make it extremely difficult to forecast and plan from one year to the next. By way of an example in 2006-07 we carried out 21 gritting operations, last year 2008-09 we carried out 62 operations to date this year we have carried out 67 operations and there are still two months remaining of the WMP. To carry out operations on the entire footway network, would require approximately 370 gangs (approximately 800 personnel) and 2500 tonnes of salt, which is approximately 65% of the council’s supply of salt at the commencement of the winter maintenance period. This would require the council to significantly increase its pre-winter stock and would require a 4 large storage area, which is of premium. It is estimated that the council would have to quadruple its stock of grit at a cost of £500,000 To grit the entire road network would require the contractor to considerably increase the number of vehicles and attachments; this is estimated to be around an additional 20 vehicles at a minimum cost of £600,000. Each of these vehicles would need trained operatives, together with support staff, who would for long periods be on standby and not being used. Storage of the plant would also require additional space within the depot and would stand idle or redundant for the rest of the period. The operational cost for one gritting operation of borough’s entire road network excluding the footways is estimated to be approximately £100,000.00. 7.2 Taking the above into account it would not be practical to extend gritting operations to areas not contained in the WMP. The direct costs alone would be approximately £3M, for the conditions experienced in mid December. Further, constraints would include the availability of human resources and the nature of the remainder of the road and footway networks which is very problematic to operate on due to narrow widths of carriageways, this is further compounded by heavily parked residential streets, with limited space for gritting vehicles manoeuvrability. 8. The following positives should also be recognised: - 8.1 At the start of the November 2009, the council had a considerable supply of salt, and was better prepared than many other London Authorities. As members may recall during the snowfall of February 2009 we were in a position to loan salt to several London Boroughs. During the current season we have once again provided mutual aide (loaned salt) to a number of London Boroughs. 8.2 While both nationally and within London most authorities have had to reduce their gritting operations, this has not been the case in Ealing as the available salt in Ealing did not get to a level where we had to reduce our planned operations. 9. Other Implications There are no other implications arising. 10. Background papers a) Highways Act, 1980 b) Local Authority Associations (ACC, ADC, AMA), Code of Practice for Well Maintained Highways c) Winter Maintenance Plan 2009/10 5 Consultation Formatted Name of Department Date sent Date Comments consultee to response appear in report consultee received para: from consultee Internal Jackie Adams Legal & Democratic Services 12/03/10 12/03/10 Para 2 Report History Decision type: I. Urgency item? EITHER: N/A No Authorised by Cabinet Date report Report deadline: Date report sent: member: drafted: N/R Report no.: Report author and contact for queries: Keith Fraser, Head of Scrutiny x 7497 6