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Recent funding changes mean that local highway authorities now have to demonstrate successful operation and benefits of their Highways Infrastructure Asset Management Plans.
Satbir Gill – speaker at ICE's upcoming Asset Management Conference and Network Manager at Hounslow Highways – tells us about the advantages of the London Borough of Hounslow's PFI approach.
For a number of years, local highways authorities have been encouraged to develop Highways Infrastructure Asset Management Plans (HIAMPs), and the benefits of such an approach are widely acknowledged.
Recent changes to funding arrangements mean that authorities now have to demonstrate that they not only have a HIAMP in place, but that an asset management approach is in operation and delivering benefits.
Following a rigorous procurement process to secure funding and grant, the London Borough of Hounslow's highways pathfinder PFI contract commenced on 1 January 2013. The project includes the upgrade of 259 miles of carriageway, 458 miles of footway, street lights, signs, street furniture, trees, structures, drainage and street cleansing.
The whole project was founded on highways asset management principals, which was instrumental in it securing government approval.
The main features of the PFI model are:
While unlikely that there will be any new highways maintenance PFI projects over the coming years, the current plan has been running for three years. This presents an opportunity to assess whether the projected asset management-related benefits are being realised, and to consider lessons learned to date.
The highways PFI model has a number of advantages over the conventional local authority funding model:
As with any HIAMP implementation there is a need for high quality data and supporting models to ensure that contractual performance measures can be calculated, reported, audited and achieved. There is also a need to certify that the contractor is able to plan future interventions to reduce cost over the life of the project, and a need to minimise the risk of performance failures.
Ringway and Jean Lefebvre have developed their own sophisticated Asset Optioneering Model (AOM), which can calculate whole life costs of various road construction and rehabilitation options over the network. This helps minimise costs, carbon emissions and energy consumption, while maximising performance, durability and recycling of construction waste.
As of July 2015 Hounslow's PFI contract has delivered the following:
While many local authorities faced with implementing a HIAMP regime may not have the luxury of the levels of funding and long-term consistency that highways maintenance PFIs enjoy, there are a number of lessons that can be applied from projects such Hounslow's:
Satbir Gill speaks at ICE's Asset Management Conference on 10 November 2015. Our conference provides a platform for engineers, asset owners and operators to discuss, exchange views and come to conclusions on what is most important for the future of UK's transport and infrastructure assets.
Visit the conference homepage to see the full programme and book your place.