Blackpool Council has undertaken a major four-year project (‘Project30’) to address the backlog of maintenance of its highways and footways and to generate significant savings over the medium to long term.
As Blackpool Council’s largest asset, with a valuation in excess of £500 million, the network of highways and footways is crucial to the functioning of the town. It is an expensive asset to maintain and Blackpool Council had, in common with many other local authorities, underinvested in maintenance over many years. The result was a gradual but accelerating deterioration of the network.
Further consequences of this decline were costly insurance claims resulting from ‘tripping and slipping’ accidents. Highways maintenance management tried to stop this but it was difficult to make a business case that would convince elected members to make significant investment in this area against competing demands from other, more prominent, services. What was needed was a means of arriving at sound financial figures based upon accurate statements of highway and footway conditions and the cost of their treatment.
Using Ordnance Survey data provided under the Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA) and working with its technology partner, Gaist Ltd, Blackpool Council has introduced a new method of recording, managing and reporting its highways assets and assessing their condition and treatments needed.
The Gaist Geographical Resource Platform (Gaist GRP) solution has helped to provide clarity and accuracy for the management of the road and footpath network. Using Gaist GRP and OS MasterMap® Topography Layer, Blackpool Council has derived accurate road carriageway and footway width and area extents.
OS MasterMap Integrated Transport Network™ (ITN) Layer has been used to identify road classification information that impacts on how a road surface is treated and how work is prioritised. As a result of this work Blackpool Council is able to accurately determine the condition of the assets and the costs of any remedial treatments required.
In addition, a wealth of georeferenced highways asset data, including details of kerb heights and conditions, thermoplastic markings and signage, has been recorded and is available for analysis and costing. The quality of this ‘condition/treatment’ assessment data had created a high confidence level in the results, which in turn supported a robust business case for the initial investment in the four-year treatment plan – Project30.
- Savings that will exceed £100 million over 25 years.
- Avoidance of major reconstruction projects and the associated reliance upon increasingly-expensive oil-based products such as bitumen.
- Move to proactive as opposed to reactive maintenance.
- Repair to 60 km of carriageways and 132 km of footpaths.
- Use of the mapping platform in other areas of the authority (including emergency planning, tourism and leisure, and customer response).