TRL (the Transport Research Laboratory), is offering advice to local authorities and private finance initiatives (PFIs) to help them adopt best practice for highway appraisal and maintenance.
The guidance accompanies the newly-launched Highways Maintenance Appraisal Tool (HMAT) and will help organisations to secure vital additional funding as part of the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Local Highways Maintenance Challenge Fund.
TRL recently developed HMAT, a spreadsheet based model designed to estimate the wider benefits that arise from road maintenance, as part of work funded by the DfT. For the first time, a fully holistic approach has been adopted for highways upkeep, with factors analysed including delays to road users, carbon emissions, vehicle operating costs, accidents and much more.
In addition, experts from TRL are now offering support in analysing road network maintenance options using HMAT, enabling organisations to maximise performance and reduce costs, resulting in more efficient highways maintenance.
Built on the existing Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme (HMEP) and Potholes Review of 2012, the HMAT modelling enables highway officials to assess and compare the economic costs and benefits of proposed asset management strategies, allowing them to make key decisions on maintenance funding and justify any proposed budget increases.
Rob Wallis, CEO of TRL, commented: “HMAT enables local highway authorities in England to demonstrate a wider approach to road maintenance planning and to bid for these extra maintenance funds. Currently, a small proportion of the highways maintenance budget is assigned to a Local Highways Maintenance Challenge Fund, but this is expected to increase over the coming years. So it will be increasingly important for highways officials to provide evidence to justify budget for maintenance. HMAT will be vital in helping to unlock this extra funding.”
HMAT was two years in development and followed on from TRL work completed for the National Maintenance Review in Scotland and for the RAC Foundation and the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) in England. DfT believes the tool helps “towards better understanding the full benefits of highways maintenance” and has encouraged local authorities to adopt its use to better provide evidence and justify budget decisions.
The HMAT model and user guide are available for download at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/local-highways-maintenance-economic-costs-and-benefits-tool.