Cold Comfort: Heated debate from the coolest event of the year

 

This year’s Cold Comfort was opened by a familiar face in a new role – Roger Williams, now Gatwick Airport’s head of surface access strategy.

Mr Williams began by stating that after this year’s mild winter the industry could take stock and should be prepared for anything.

”Local

The way that we maintain our roads during the winter season is now, more than ever, aided by technology and influenced by data analysis from previous events. This was a prominent theme that many of the speakers explored.

Matthew Morreim, division manager of street maintenance in the City of St. Paul Public Works, Minnesota, provided delegates with first-hand knowledge of how to tackle a ‘big freeze’. With frequent sub-zero temperatures in Minnesota, winter maintenance is put to the test.

‘People don’t stay at home just because it has snowed. They expect their roads to be useable,’ Mr Morreim explained. vAfter approximately three inches of snow Minnesota declares a snow emergency, which leads to parking restrictions. A ban on residential parking is put in place so that gritters and plows are able to clear the streets; the ban is usually announced before noon on the day that the emergency is announced.

When questioned by delegates on how the authority informs car owners when the ban would be put in place, Mr Morreim responded: ‘We send out alerts to news and weather channels, and Facebook and Twitter are also a great help when it comes to informing the public of what we are doing.’

Winter 2018/19 review panel

The discussion included David Batchelor, project manager for severe weather planning, research and development at Highways England, and Carol Valentine, highway manager for Kent CC. The panel, chaired by Mr Williams, discussed the main challenges that winter service faces.

Ms Valentine began by stating that one of the biggest challenges had been the recent mild weather as well as budget reductions. She said a large amount of Kent’s winter maintenance budget had been cut and that it was impossible to carry out the same quality of service with less money, to which both the chair and Mr Batchelor nodded in agreement. vZero-hour drivers’ contracts and public expectations were also mentioned by Ms Valentine as being problems that the council had to handle.

New technologies that will be able to assist in winter maintenance were highlighted as important by Mr Batchelor: ‘I think that we are entering a new era of tech, both fixed and mobile.’

Ms Valentine agreed and described the future Smart Winter Project that would see Kent have 120 sensors installed to monitor road temperatures.

New tech and new kit

Toni Korjus, head of infrastructural services, Publics Works Department, City of Espoo in Finland, spoke about the city’s desire for better road network information.

Mr Korjus also described Espoo’s thermal mapping pilot in 2018 as an operational benefit and said that he hopes the mapping can be used in the future to put Espoo in a position where it is able to carry out selective treatments in order to plan for future road conditions.

Highways England is planning to implement a new winter fleet. Jane Wilkins, winter fleet, national depot project sponsor at Highways England, told delegates that the three critical factors that determine the level of priority for a winter service treatment fleet were availability, running costs and time lost per vehicle off road due to defects. The new fleet will be phased into action, Ms Wilkins stated, adding that in phase one of the transition 198 vehicles will be replaced.

Hayes takes a risky approach

Richard Hayes, chief executive of the Institute of Highway Engineers, stated that he shouldn’t really have to speak to delegates about the risk-based approach because they are all doing it. He added that he knows this is the case because 90% of local authorities in England have achieved Band 3 and are getting their full allowances from the Incentive Fund.

‘You must be applying a risk-based approach, am I right?’ Mr Hayes jokingly asked delegates.

Mr Hayes reminded delegates that, having been released in October 2016 and coming into force last year, the risk-based code of practice allows local authorities to design winter maintenance based on individual local needs.

‘The code is of course there to provide guidance; it is not a set of strict rules. However, we do know it’s the best guidance isn’t it,’ he asked rhetorically.

”Local

From Code of Practice to Practical Guide

On day two of the conference, National Winter Service Research Group (NWSRG) chair Chris Cranston introduced its new Practical Guide, explaining that key changes include: using less repetition, adding more colourful text, more qualitative data rather than quantitative, and simplifying guidelines.

Mr Cranston spoke about salt management and containment, warning delegates that ‘if you do not manage salt moisture it cannot be used in its most advantageous form’.

He ended his speech by saying: ‘The guidelines are not telling you that there is one correct solution to winter management, but to use the methods that are best suited for your authority.’

This was echoed by Rini Donker, senior advisor winter maintenance, Rijkswaterstaat, The Netherlands. As he told delegates: ‘You should do everything in your power as an authority to make sure that your roads are safe to drive on.’

Chris Riley, area highway manager for Gloucestershire CC, spoke about salt storage, which he said was a critical factor in successful winter maintenance.

‘In Gloucestershire we are invested in improving our salt storage and have been able to design a brand new depot,’ said Mr Riley.

After 2009’s salt shortage, Mr Riley explained that the county council was able to invest a lot more in storage due to political support. ‘Having politicians support our need for more salt storage worked because they realised just how vulnerable we were and would continue to be if a salt shortage continued,’ he said.

Peter Turland, senior engineer highway assest maintenance for Doncaster Council, told delegates: ‘While it might sound like common sense, you really must ensure that your equipment is ready for the winter season. That is rule number one in winter maintenance.’

That’s actually rule number two. Rule number one of course is: never miss Cold Comfort.

Register now for full access


Register just once to get unrestricted, real-time coverage of the issues and challenges facing UK transport and highways engineers.

Full website content includes the latest news, exclusive commentary from leading industry figures and detailed topical analysis of the highways, transportation, environment and place-shaping sectors. Use the link below to register your details for full, free access.

Already a registered? Login

 
comments powered by Disqus
 
 
highways jobs

Highway Rangers

Epping Forest District Council
£24,354
Epping Forest District Council (EFDC) is seeking to recruit two Highway Rangers within our Contracts and Technical Services department Epping Forest, Waltham Abbey
Recuriter: Epping Forest District Council

Head of Highways, Transport and Recycling

Powys County Council
£77,282 – £84,102 per annum 
We are seeking to recruit a highly motivated and inspirational leader as our new Head of Highways, Transport and Recycling here in Powys. Powys
Recuriter: Powys County Council

Waste Loaders

City of York Council
£9.52 per hour
Do you have a current UK driving licence? York, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: City of York Council

General Operatives/Drivers/Gardeners

City of York Council
£9.52 to £10.30 dependent upon experience
Do you have a current UK driving licence? York, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: City of York Council

Programme Manager - Highways

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£42,683 - £44,632
Are you an experienced, talented and collaborative Programme Manager with experience of supporting public sector transformation and change? Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

(Senior) Environmental Health Officer/Enforcement Officer

Brent Council
£35,724 - £41,706 p.a. inc.
We are looking for Environmental Health Officers; EHRB registered and has current experience in food safety and health & safety enforcement. Brent, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Road worker/Ground worker

City of York Council
£10.30 per hour
Have you successfully worked as part of a team? York, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: City of York Council

HGV Relief Driver

North West Leicestershire District Council
Salary Band D, £21,589- £24,799 per year (pro rata to period of contract)
We are looking to recruit temporary HGV Relief Drivers with occasional loading duties to join NWLDC’s busy Waste Services Team. Coalville, Leicestershire
Recuriter: North West Leicestershire District Council

Waste Services Worker (Loader)

North West Leicestershire District Council
Band B, £18,795 - £19,171 per year (pro rata to the length of contract)
We are looking for Waste Operations Loaders to join our Waste Services Team to undertake waste collection and other related duties. Coalville, Leicestershire
Recuriter: North West Leicestershire District Council

Chargehand/Ganger

City of York Council
£11.09 per hour
Do you have experience of excavation, reinstatement and footway maintenance schemes? York, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: City of York Council

Sustainability & Resilience Manager (maternity cover)

Essex County Council
£51510.0 - £58752 per annum
This fixed-term contract will begin in August 2020 and is expected to last until October 2021 Interviews scheduled to be held Wednesday 10th June 2020 England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Civil Service Deputy Director Roles

GOV.UK
£70,000 - £117,800 & excellent rewards
We’re looking for significant experience of engaging at C-Suite and Board levels, excellent partnership-building and... England
Recuriter: GOV.UK

Engineer (Highways Scheme Design)

Medway Council
£31,888 - £37,646 per annum
The post-holder will be required to have highway engineering expertise in order to contribute to efficient and effective provision of... Medway City Estate, Rochester
Recuriter: Medway Council

Principal Flood Risk Officer

Lancashire County Council
£42,683-£46,566
We have an exciting opportunity for a Principal Floor Risk Officer Lancashire
Recuriter: Lancashire County Council

Resources and Waste Commercial and Contracts Manager

Northumberland County Council
£47,107 - £50,394
We are looking for a strategic, innovative and performance-focused leader to join us as Resources and Waste; Commercial and Contracts Manager. County Hall, Morpeth, Northumberland
Recuriter: Northumberland County Council

Principal Planning Liaison Officer X3

Somerset County Council
£33,799 to £37,849 per annum
We have a number of fantastic opportunities in Somerset at various levels Taunton, Somerset
Recuriter: Somerset County Council

Principal Estate Roads Engineer

Somerset County Council
£33,799 to £37,849 per annum
We have a number of fantastic opportunities in Somerset at various levels Taunton, Somerset
Recuriter: Somerset County Council

Principal Travel Plan Officer

Somerset County Council
£33,799 to £37,849 per annum
We have a number of fantastic opportunities in Somerset at various levels Taunton, Somerset
Recuriter: Somerset County Council

Assistant Estate Roads Engineer x2

Somerset County Council
£25,295 to £28,785 per annum
We have 2 exciting opportunities for enthusiastic and committed individuals to join our Highways Development Management Team Taunton, Somerset
Recuriter: Somerset County Council

Design Services Manager

Lincolnshire County Council
£50,430 - £55,503
We are a team of mixed experience and skills, proud to serve the people of Lincolnshire and have fun whilst doing so! Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council