Transportation Asset Management
Annual Report 2007
1.2 Key Developments
2. Impact of Asset Management & the HAMP
2.4Integrated Works Programming
2.6Hertfordshire and the Bigger Picture
3. Contribution to Wider Objectives
3.1Progress towardsGoals of Asset Ownership and Management
3.2Culture and Systems of Hertfordshire County Council
3.3HAMP Improvement Action Plan
Welcome to the first of what is intended as an annual series of reports on the state of transport asset management in Hertfordshire.
When Hertfordshire published itsfirst Highway Asset Management Plan (HAMP) in early 2002, the idea of applying asset management principles to highway and transportation assets was in its infancy in the UK. The then-groundbreaking HAMP excited great interest in the local government community and established Hertfordshire as one of the leading practitioners in the field.
Five years on and, according to recent research for the DfT, 93% of all local highway authorities either already have a HAMP or TAMPin place or intend to have one completed by the end of 2007with most of the rest aiming to follow suit next year.
The early adoption of asset management within Hertfordshire – both the HAMP and, more importantly, the principles and processes behind it – has provided a number of opportunities over the last five years. While future reports in this series will be split between a look back at the previous year and an update of TAMP goals and objectives for the year to come, this report is designed to complement the new TAMP, making a review of objectives unnecessary. We consequently concentrate on a retrospective of the impact of the past five years of asset management planning on the highway network in Hertfordshire, the benefits it has brought and the lessons for the future.
The particular challenges facing Hertfordshire’s transport network are looked at from their respective angles in both the LTP and the TAMP and the reader seeking a detailed analysis is directed to those documents.
However, to summarise the key factors, Hertfordshire:
- Is one of the most densely populated counties in the country
- Has over one million residents
- Has increasing numbers of long distance travellers passing through
- Has 28 towns of varying sizes,but no one major centre of population
- Is affluent with high employment and high car ownership
- Has traffic flow levels well above the national average
- Has poor east-west links, especially via rail services
The combination of these factors creates complex journey patterns which make public transport services harder to provide, increases congestion and the associated adverse environmental impacts and accelerates the rate at which fair wear and tear takes its toll on the highway network.
With this in mind it is, perhaps, no wonder that Hertfordshire was one of the first authorities to see the need for a new approach to the management of the transportation asset.
1.2 Key Developments
In many ways, the change in Hertfordshire over the last five years has been incremental, rather than revolutionary. Many of the key factors mentioned above were present then as they are now but some deserve to be singled out as of particular significance.
The growth in the size of the asset has, for the most part, been modest over the last five years–attributable to the usual mix of adding new sections via adoption and improving existing sections through various works programmes. On the A class roads, however, the growth in the size of the network has been substantial. From an A road carriageway length of 582km in 2001, Hertfordshire’s A Roads now total 713 km, thanks mainly to the detrunking of several key routes and the opening of the Baldock bypass. This is an increase of 23% on the A road network and A roads are both the busiest and generally the most expensive to maintain and improve – some of the newly detrunked sections take in excess of 60,000 vehicles per day. This has substantial implications for the future management of the network.
Besides advocating an asset management approach the HAMPidentified an accurate and realistic asset valuation as a key tool in asset management. These concepts created a great deal of interest in the industry and have subsequently been generally accepted and embraced as good practice within the UK local authority highways sector. This led to the publication (by the CountySurveyor’s Society in conjunction with others) of the Framework for Highway Asset Management in April 2004 and Asset Valuation Guide in July 2005.
“A fundamental component of long term planning is to ensure the asset base is preserved and replenished in a sustainable way without imposing an undue financial burden on future generations. The preservation of the asset base can be measured and monitored over time using a robust asset valuation procedure that provides a true and fair value of the assets.”
Guidance Document for Highway Infrastructure Asset Valuation,
CSS/TAG July ‘05
Over the last few years, the condition of the roads and footways and road congestion have increasingly become issues of public concern at the local level, as evidenced by the extract from the report on the annual poll of residents undertaken by MORI for Hertfordshire County Council in 2006.
This public perception has been reflected in a change in strategic emphasisincluding the inclusion of road highway condition as a specific challenge in the Corporate Plan and contributed to the creation of Highways Extra to deliver the additional investment Members wanted. As well as being a challenge to be met, this also demonstrates how changes in strategic emphasis can translate rapidly into operational changes.
2. Impact of Asset Management and the HAMP
The purpose of writing and promoting an asset management plan is to codify and promote good practice in asset management within an organisation and, by the same token, to reduce waste and inefficiency in all their forms.
The Plan itself is only a means to an end; a plan with no implementation is a waste of time and effort. On the other hand, it is perfectly possibly to be a good asset manager without a plan – it is just much harder.
For this reason, this report looks at both the HAMP itself and the asset management practices that Hertfordshire has adopted together. That is not to say that all of the good practice (and the not-so-good) is as a direct result of the HAMP – some are parallel processes – but rather that both the HAMP and many of the other innovations came about together as the result of the decision to adopt a systematic asset management approach and as the result of ingenuity and hard work on the part of a good many people in both Hertfordshire County Council and our partners.
The 2002 Highway Asset Management Plan (HAMP), as the first of its kind in the country, was a highly influential document that did much to raise the awareness of the concept of asset management in the UKhighways industry. It was widely used as a model by other authorities looking to develop plans of their own prior to the publication of the CSS guidance and it set the stage for that document and further development of asset management.
Although Hertfordshire had already started to introduce a number of elements of asset management practice by 2002, such as the five year A road maintenance programme, the HAMP codified this and made the asset management approach HCC’s adopted practice. It combined a mixture of existing HCC practice with more aspirational future objectives and set out a route-map for HCC to follow the asset management approach.
The HAMP was a sound basic tool five years ago but is now looking somewhat dated in the light of more recent advances in the field. That said, it is still a basically sound document covering the important aspects of highway asset management and compares favourably to some recent plans.
Many improvement actions were included in the HAMP, but not all were costed out or practicable, something the TAMP aims to address. The HAMP was readily available within the organisation but not regularly used by many people; again, this is something the TAMP will look to address by moving to a primarily-electronic format in order to be more accessible and easier to navigate.
Hertfordshire Highways (HH), launched in October 2002, is a three-way alliance between Hertfordshire County Council (the client or ‘Service Management Team’), Mouchel Parkman (the consultant or ‘Design Team’) and an Amey-Lafarge joint venture (the contractor or ‘Works Team’).The contracts run to 2009 with an option to extend by up to three years.
HH was another innovative idea – in fact it won the Local Government Chronicle ‘Innovation of the Year’ award in 2004 – and similar arrangements have since been adopted by a number of other local authorities.
The arrangement was designed, in part, to deliver an asset management approach throughout the highways service by rearranging it to improve communication and coordination and ensure that the service was focused on delivering its key objectives.
Substantial benefits have been realised from this arrangement:
- Co-location and team-working has improved communication
- A consistent approach to similar issues
- Wide access to knowledge and specialists has been opened up
- Excellent responseto emergencies like the Buncefield oil depot explosion, made possible by skills and resources available
- In some areas of work, the partnering approach is really working
- The Forward Works Programme helps advance coordination and resource planning
- The road space booking process makes coordination and programming far better than it was before HH
There have also been a number of difficulties, as might be expected, and the move created a large, complex organisation which can be bureaucratic. A number of observations have been made of the organisation:
- Internal tensions can hamper operations
- IT systems are not always good
- High staff turnover in some areas means skills are lost
- ‘One size fits all’ approach is not always appropriate
- Contracts lack mechanisms to remedy poor performance
- Size means it can beinflexible and hard to innovate
- Works programme delivery procedure is very complex
These are being examined in detail as part of a major review of Herts Highways, which is currently in progress to help establish options for the future - both short and longer term - and many are currently being addressed.
2.4Integrated Works Programming
Over the past five years, the Integrated Works Programme (IWP) and, latterly, the Forward Works Programme (FWP) have been developed to promote coordinated delivery, look for synergies between different schemes and programmes, reduce disruption and provide consultationinformation about programmes in advance.
The first IWP was a one-year list of the main schemes intended for the following year. Subsequently this became a two-year programme to help with advance preparation and, for the last three programmes, a five-year FWP has joined the IWP to put the current works programmes in a medium-term context and to give an opportunity for longer-term planning.
The IWP and FWP are now well embedded as part of annual decision making process, helping to involve local members in the process and give other interested groups notice of our intentions.
As mentioned in ‘Key Developments’ above, public dissatisfaction with the condition of local roads and footways emerged as a growing concern during 2005. At the same time, predictions of future condition made possible by advanced modelling techniques (see section 2.7 below) made it clear that the condition was set to continue to decline unless additional investment was made.
Members responded by asking officers to look at a range of different funding options and at how a substantial amount of additional work could be delivered quickly and effectively but without diverting resources from, or disrupting, Herts Highways’ normal operations.
Rapid results were required and, to do this, additional resources were needed. The solution was a new contract to deliver a targeted programme of preventative works designed to help arrest deterioration as well as a parallel programme of repairs to tackle some of the roads in a poorer condition.
Members made an additional £10m available for 2006/07, over and above the normal highways budgets.The project, which became known as ‘Highways Extra’, was a substantial programme of relatively simple works and a new contract was let to Lafarge, independently of the Herts Highways contract, specifically for the work.
Since the work was relatively straightforward, the Highways Extra organisation was designed to be simple and streamlined. Design was shared between the contractor and client staff, allowing Lafarge to use their expertise and knowledge of materials early in the design process and match it to HCC’s requirements for a particular site.
Many of the sites were relatively minor residential roads. The nature of the programme meant that a great many of these sites could be treated quickly and effectively preserving the asset, reducing reactive costs and improving the quality of the local environment at the same time.
Keen prices and the efficient set up meant that HCC’s initial estimates were exceeded and more work was done for the available money. In fact, the first year was so successful that Members funded an additional year. Feedback both from public and members has generally been very positive and the focused programmes of simple, effective work have made a substantial contribution, alongside the standard Herts Highways programmes, to improving the condition of the network. As the chart of BVPI (Best Value Performance Indicators) demonstrates; B, C and U roads and major footways were predicted to worsen under the “standard spend” and improve under the “enhanced spend”. The first year of the enhanced spend through Highways Extra followed the predictions very closely and further improvements are expected as a result of the second year of additional investment.
2.6Hertfordshire and the Bigger Picture
From the early days of the original HAMP, Hertfordshire has been seen as a leader in the asset management field, not without some justification. The early drivers developed from a Best Value Review of the highway service in 1999; the service needed to deliver more for less and asset management seemed to offer a way of gaining the maximum benefit from limited resources. Since there was no real history of highway or transport asset management in the UK, advice was sought from elsewhere, initially in the form of Opus, a New Zealand company with extensive international asset management experience who supported HCC in developing of the HAMP and asset management.
HCC published the first highway asset management plan in the UK in 2002 and led the CSS project to create the guidance document “A Framework for Highway Asset Management” published in 2004.
HCC was also involved in producing the CSS “Guidance Document for Highway Infrastructure Asset Valuation” published in 2005. Although this document has now been in place for two years, it was developed primarily by the engineers and has not yet been adopted by the accounting community.
In 2006 CIPFA, at the request of HM Treasury and the Department for Transport, launched a review of the issue to weigh up the potential benefits of the CSS asset management based approach to valuation in contrast to the ‘historic cost’ approach, which is the current method used inlocal authority accounting. Hertfordshire contributed significantly to the review and was cited in the interim consultation report, published in July 07, as an example of good practice in the field.
During the last year, HCC has also beeninvolved in a DfT-commissioned project undertaken by consultant Atkins to review local authority progress nationally on producing TAMPs and implementing asset management, and to capture good practice.Hertfordshire was identified as one of the top authorities included in the final stage of the DfT project was, once again, held up as example of good practice.
In addition, HCC officers regularly speak on asset management related topics at conferences and attend various national and regional working groups on asset management practice.
Deterioration modelling, or Pavement Performance Modelling as it is also known, is another area in which HCC is a UK leader once again, with technical support and expertise from Opus in New Zealand.
The deterioration modelling process aims to optimise the investment made through the various carriageway programmes. That is to say it looks to deliver the best possible long-term results (in terms of the overall condition of the network) for the available resources. As the process focuses on optimising the results of the programme, rather than prioritising the sites in the programme, it is a clear step beyond even the best prioritisation processes.