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Day to day highway maintenance

We take a balanced approach to highway maintenance, which includes long term improvements and day-to-day maintenance of the roads, bridges, subways, lights, and gullies on Buckinghamshire’s transport network. To care for this vast asset, we carry out planned inspections as well as reactive daily inspections to investigate customer reports.

These inspections identify and prioritise defects which form the basis of our day to day operational repairs.

The budget for the work arising from day-to-day work, which keeps the network safe and serviceable, averages around £15 million every financial year.

Planned inspections:

  • Roads and footways are inspected monthly, quarterly or annually based on the type of road. The most used and crucial roads, ‘strategic roads’, are inspected most frequently, to identify any kind of defect
  • All Structures are inspected on a two yearly cycle
  • Streetlights are inspected in a rotation of quarterly night scouting programmes, which continue throughout the year
  • Gullies are inspected in conjunction with cleaning operations every 12 months on A and B roads, and every three years on C and Unclassified roads

What is a ‘defect’?

A ‘defect’ is something which may ‘create danger or serious inconvenience to users of the network or the wider community’. Inspections identify defects against our full range of assets. This includes:

  • Cracks, gaps or potholes on the road
  • Damage to signs, safety fences, pedestrian barriers, bollards and other installations within the highway boundary
  • Overgrown trees and hedges, dead or dying trees and loose branches posing a risk or creating obstruction
  • Faded or dirty signs
  • Faded or missing road markings and road studs
  • Ironwork damaged, broken or missing
  • Blocked gullies or drains
  • Other defects which may present risk to highway users or affect the structural integrity of the highway

Assessing Risk:

All repairs are prioritised based on risk, rather than prescribed definitions. This means we are prioritising defects based on these factors:

  • The extent, depth, surface area or other degree of deficiency of the defect or obstruction
  • The volume, characteristics and speed of traffic on the road
  • The level of use of the road
  • The location relative to highway features such as junctions and bends
  • The location relative to the positioning of users, especially vulnerable users (e.g. cyclists), such as in traffic lanes or wheel tracks
  • Interaction with other defects
  • Forecast weather conditions, for example the potential for freezing of surface water

Repairing defects:

While not every defect on the highway requires immediate or priority repair, all issues reported to us are reviewed within 10 days. Depending upon that review:

  • We aim to make emergencies safe within 2 hours, undertaking a full repair at the time where possible, and if not planning a full repair for a later date
  • Undertaking other priority repairs within two, five or 28 days depending on the assessed severity
  • Non-urgent defect repairs will be considered for future programmes of planned maintenance works

Cyclical and Seasonal services:

In addition to individual defect repairs, there are numerous cyclical and seasonal services which are carried out each year:

Spring to Summer: Beginning in April we carry out four urban grass cuts per year during the growing season. Urban areas, in the main, are defined as those areas within town or village limits. It should be noted that in many locations local Parish Councils have taken on devolved responsibility for this activity, in which case the Parish will set their own frequency and timescale. 

In addition we carry out a single swathe cut of grass adjacent to roads in rural areas – i.e. outside of town or village limits. This is supplemented by a further three cuts of ‘visibility’ areas – i.e. junctions of publicly maintained roads where sightlines must be maintained.   

As part of summer service we also attend to any known areas of noxious weeds.

Structural testing of lighting columns and sign poles is undertaken over the summer months. Results are collated into annual replacement programmes. Any item with potential for immediate failure will be removed as a priority. 

Autumn to Winter: In October daily monitoring of road surface temperatures begins, continuing until mid-April. During this period up to 50 gritter drivers are on call 24 hours a day, undertaking precautionary and reactive salting of roads and ploughing of snow as forecasts and conditions dictate. Our precautionary salting routes cover 1405km of the county's A and B road network.

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Last updated: 6 September 2018

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