Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council is the local authority for the Borough of Stockport in Greater Manchester.
The Council’s highway network comprises of approximately 945km of carriageway and approximately 1,500km of footway. There are around 179km of classified A, B and C road and 766km of unclassified road. There are approximately 72,000 carriageway gullies that assist with drainage of the highway.
Stockport’s nine-year Highways Investment Programme, which commenced in October 2014, was developed to help identify a long-term plan to prioritise repair work and provide a solution to the deterioration on their highway network.
Stockport completed a full ‘walked’ borough survey to support an initial business case which was the precursor to the development of an investment plan for maintenance of the highway network. Part of this was to consider the need for more planned works while there was an increasing demand for more reactive repairs. The post-delivery aim is to ‘lock in’ the benefit of the investment in maintenance on Stockport’s roads by maintaining a steady state position.
Previously there were limitations on how much surveying could be carried out on Stockport’s roads because of resources. The survey the Council conducted was complex and did not provide the level of detail to help inform an investment plan of this scale and for the longer term.
Working with Gaist’s Professional Services team, Stockport were able to move to a system of condition grading of the condition, for footways and carriageways, using simple methodology. The results can be viewed on a GIS mapping system with a grading system using colours to clearly identify the condition of each route. This enabled the Council to plan site scoping work more effectively to identify sites for structural or preventative repair.
The team at Gaist developed a forecasting model for Stockport that used existing data and tracked progress of work through the investment period. This enabled the Council to understand their network in more detail and assisted forward planning and improved allocation of resources, both financial and operational.
Andrew Suggett, Highway Asset Maintenance Manager at Stockport Council says “The Gaist system and model helped us to develop a simple highway condition assessment method that could be used for strategic planning and guide us on the treatment of roads at a local level. The performance monitoring reports track progress throughout the investment and assist with forecasting on how the network would change with different levels of investment. The model has been adjusted to suit our local priorities.”
The model also gave Stockport a unique insight into the performance of carriageway and footways by wars showing improvement in regional areas. Mr Suggett added...
“We started to see quickly the progress being made across district areas. The most effective use of operational resources was seen by working in specific areas of the borough. The Gaist model was developed to work with our approach. At the mid-term review, the model showed a high level of accuracy taking into consideration actual outcomes against those used as a forecast at the start of the process.”
Investing at the right time is key to make the most of the investment and timely preventative treatments on the right routes are part of the overall maintenance strategy. "
“The Gaist team have provided us with a model that is now developing beyond our expectations. We were concerned that a model wouldn’t be able to cover everything we needed to track and guide us on our work in line with the investment programme. It has however been flexible enough to grow with us as we have obtained more data throughout the project. This has been an extremely useful and positive process for us. The data has not only helped us in the earlier stages of the project, it has guided us throughout and we are now jointly working on a post-investment model. The post-investment model will take a slightly different approach and consider the delivery of smaller work packages. It will also guide us on funding needed in the future so that we do not see the gradual decline in the condition of roads and footways that we saw pre-investment.
Gaist’s Professional Services team have provided Stockport with a suite of performance indicators.
Performance indicators on condition have improved on Stockport’s network since 2014. In 2013/14 which was the pre-investment period, carriageways were at 18.6% and footways 20.1%, whereas in 2019/20 these figures were 12.81% for carriageways and 11.22% for footways.