Tensar Highways Manager Craig Andrews outlined the benefits of, and barriers to, different pavement design approaches at this year’s New Civil Engineer Roads Conference, held in London on 6th and 7th July. Tensar was a Gold sponsor of the event in support of its Road Technology campaign launch.
Andrews presented at the asset management workshop on the first day, which discussed the progress being made by local authorities and national in adopting an asset management approach to roads maintenance and the benefits of innovative design.
He described how Tensar’s Glasstex P100 reinforcement composite ‘Stress Absorbing Membrane Interlayer’ was increasing pavement strength and reducing traffic-induced reflective cracking in the hard shoulders of the M3 between Junction 2 and 4a. These are currently being converted to ‘Smart’ running lanes, as part of the Smart Motorways programme.
“Collaboration was key,” Andrews explained. “We worked closely with Balfour Beatty, Tarmac and Foster Contracting, to deliver a pavement design that saves significant costs, will extend the operating life of the road and that will minimise maintenance and disruption on this busy stretch of motorway, reducing whole life costs.”
In the Q&A session that followed, Andrews was asked for his thoughts on the barriers to innovation. “Unfortunately, some organisations are reluctant to depart from the National Standards and to take on additional risk, which prevents the use of alternative and ‘innovative’ designs,” he replied. “This is certainly true for geosynthetics, despite them having been used on highways for more than 30 years.”
Day two focused on Highways England’s priorities and plans for the UK strategic road network; the use of new technology and future opportunities in regional roads. Andrews was on a panel that included Highways England Procurement Director Sharon Cuff, which debated the challenges facing the roads industry in the wake of ‘Brexit’ and the upcoming projects pipeline.
The panel agreed that, despite the UK’s decision to leave the EU, it was ‘business as usual’. All were positive about the future of the highways sector, because projects were in development over many years and were unlikely to stop as a result of the referendum.
“The outlook for the UK infrastructure sector is good,” Andrews said. “However, we do need to ensure that the Government supports the entire supply chain – right down to the product manufacturers – in the wake of Brexit. We also need to remove the barriers to adopting innovation; standards need to evolve more quickly, to keep pace with the development of new solutions.”
The conference brought together nearly 200 delegates from across the entire roads supply chain, from central and local government and Highways England, to contractors, consultants and specialist suppliers.
“This annual event is really useful for Tensar’s Highways Team as it is an ideal opportunity to meet with existing and potential customers and partners in one place,” said Tensar Highways Manager, Southern UK, Tony Roe. “This year, the conference also provided the perfect platform to promote our Road Technology campaign, which is raising awareness and understanding of the benefits that Tensar’s solutions and services can bring to new road schemes and maintenance