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Innovative way of working for our Joint Venture

SWH works in joint venture as the Design, Build, Finance and Operate (DBFO) Contractor for Connect Roads for the maintenance of Highways and associated works for the A30 and A35 Trunk Road from Exeter to Poole.

This is a joint venture with Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Services.

A section of the A35, totalling 8.5 miles, required routine and general maintenance. SWH suggested an innovative and completely new idea to the Highways Agency; to close 8.5miles of road for a 36 hour period and complete the necessary routine maintenance in one go. SWH suggested this for the following reasons:

  • By closing the road the number of road crossings would be reduced by a massive 85%
  • It's a safer environment for the operatives to work in
  • This 'block' method means reduced nightly road closures. It was suggested that the major activities (such as surfacing) would have meant closing sections of the road for 6 nights
  • Carrying out all activities independently would take 12 months, meaning several road closures and traffic management processes
  • Less disruption over the year for the road user

The Highways Agency agreed to the idea and preparation was put in place to close the road between 08.00 on Sunday to 06.00 on Tuesday. This was the first instance of the Highways Agency allowing a daytime closure for routine maintenance on a national trunk road.

During this closure, 60 operatives completed the following activities without disruption:

  • Surface treatment works
  • Patching
  • Re-surfacing
  • Landscape works
  • Landscape maintenance
  • Road marking
  • Drainage works
  • Sign repairs and cleaning
  • General highway cleaning

Prior to the works starting SWH liaised with local residents and businesses by holding public meetings to communicate the closure and discuss diversion routes. SWH also kept communication lines clear by facilitating a letter drop. The closure was also advertised in the local press and on radio. SWH liaised with the police and emergency services, providing them with total access to the road should they require it. As the road closures affected adjecent road networks, SWH liaised with Devon County Council, Somerset County Council and Dorset County Council.

Before any works began, the section of the road was closed and two diversion routes, totalling 60 miles, were created and appropriately signed for:

  • Heavy vehicles
  • Local light traffic

Another innovative aspect of the scheme was the placement of Hardstops around the closures, enabling local people to travel on short distances of the closure before carrying on with their journey. Each Hardstop was manned, with operatives assisting drivers on how to complete their journey.

The 36 hour closure was a success, many SWH staff and specialist sub contractors commented positively on the way the operations were planned and how much safer it was to work with increased productivity and without the worry of passing traffic. Even the local residents took advantage of the closure by carrying out maintenance to their own property with painting, power washing and hedge cutting all taking place!

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