Transport for Buckinghamshire’s Budget for 2020-21
Despite the current situation around country, Transport for Buckinghamshire’s (TfB) major projects programme for 2020–21 is in full swing. Recently the Department for Transport (DfT) issued statements highlighting how important the work is that we do on the Highway, for essential workers to get to work and for the economy. As such, the Highways Sector Council launched a new initiative called ‘Project SafeStart’ to encourage the acceleration of major maintenance work and to deliver ‘shovel-ready’ essential projects on all local authority road networks. Despite traffic levels rising, following the easing of lockdown measures, it is still much lower than usual so in line with ‘Project SafeStart’, some of the scheduled work for this year has been brought forward, ensuring less disruption to the public once lockdown is completely lifted.
‘Project SafeStart’ comes with its own set of guidelines for Highways work during the Covid-19 lockdown and will help guide maximum safety for workers and the public and include:
- No non-essential works on any primary emergency routes for hospitals and military COVID-19 logistics
- Social distancing may mean increased personnel transport and re-organisation of works
- Establish a sterile perimeter to enable ‘closed’ work sites
TfB is taking advantage of both the reduced traffic levels, and the new guidelines, while recognising that implementing these presents its own challenges to delivering certain types of schemes. There will inevitably need to be some re-programming and reprioritisation, as well as TfB working closely with their own contractors to ensure that they can comply with social distancing guidelines wherever practical.
In addition to TfB’s yearly budget, on 14 May the DfT announced a newly created Transport Infrastructure Investment Fund with the intention that the funding be used for pothole repairs and prevention, including long term road resurfacing. TfB has made the decision to split the additional funding into three programmes and, where possible, the work will commence as soon as possible to make use of the summer weather and reduced traffic on the roads. As there are the existing programmes that also need completing, TfB anticipate that works will need to continue through to the end of the finance year, March 2021.
Road and footway resurfacing 2020-21
TfB’s planned road and footway resurfacing scheme is now underway and aims to include more than 150 road resurfacing and a number of footway resurfacing schemes for 2020-21.
The total budget for TfB’s major projects, during 2020-21, is just around £34 million, this includes the additional DfT funding. This will mainly cover road and footway resurfacing, but also includes investment in bridges, streetlights, drainage and safety schemes.
Owing to the additional funding from the DfT, all TfB’s 2020 schemes are anticipated to be completed, weather and Covid-19 permitting. It will also allow for the acceleration of some high-profile projects from 2021.
TfB is responsible for over 3,200 km (nearly 2,000 miles) of roads, as well as the bridges, footways, streetlights, traffic signals, bollards and gullies that keep the roads functional and safe. Maintaining the network requires long-term strategic planning that balances day-to-day maintenance with future improvements.
Every Friday, TfB releases a programme of works around the county for the upcoming week, which is available to view on the Buckinghamshire Council website. When roads are chosen for resurfacing, they are prioritised, and the appropriate treatment assigned. TfB aims to have a balanced approach ensuring that, each year, some roads are also treated with cost effective preventative treatments to stop them from failing.
On 1 May 2020, TfB launched a new Permit Scheme for all roads across Bucks, which is an extension to the permitting of the strategic road network. The new scheme ensures that co-ordination of road space bookings, for all those wishing to work on the road network, are well managed and reduces the chance of disruption to the public.
Buckinghamshire Council Cabinet Member for Transport Nick Naylor said: “Transport for Buckinghamshire is committed to maintaining the county’s roads to a safe and serviceable level, which is why we’ve put more money into the road improvement programme this year. I’m proud of how hard the whole TfB team is working to keep these projects going, and continues to make real long-term improvements, despite the current situation.”
TfB’s Major Project Budget also includes:
- £8M invested in a ‘plane and patch’ programme, including the additional DfT funding. This is where smaller areas of damaged road are cut out and then resurfaced. The additional funding will allow further projects to be added to this financial year, including larger areas and deeper treatments to ensure longevity.
- £2M to be spent on major street lighting works, which includes replacing over 550 streetlight columns and continuing to convert street lighting to LED.
- £1M for improvements to various structures across the county, including bridges, subways, parapets, and monuments.
- £1M allocated for the 2020-21 drainage programme, which will include 30 sites around the county