When it comes to maintaining motorways in England, keeping maintenance and repairs to a high standard in a short time-scale and within budget is imperative if disruption to the road user is to be kept to a minimum.
Recent works carried out by A-one+ and LMS Highways on the M180 – running along the south side of the Humber and joining Grimsby to Doncaster – are a case in point. When the road surface began to fail prematurely in a significant and rapid manner, time was of the essence to investigate the cause, formulate a plan and repair before too much degradation caused major problems.
This is where specialist contractors can make all the difference, especially where there is early engagement with the principal contractor. The team at Area 12 – home to the M180 – were unaware of the full repertoire of services that LMS Highways could deliver until a supply chain meeting.
A-one+ Integrated Highway Services is a highway engineering provider that designs, constructs and operates thousands of miles of road networks. Established by industry leaders, CH2M, Colas and Costain, A-one + successfully manages Areas 4 and 12 of the Highways England network.
Over the last seven years, A-one+ has worked with the team at LMS Highways Ltd, subcontract specialists in repair, in Areas 7 and 14 on various projects. When faced with urgent repairs, like on the M180, historical working relationships between principle and specialist contractors can come into their own.
The M180 was suffering from water ingress problems causing large sections of the hard shoulder and areas of lane 1 to develop large cracks and potholes.
The overlaid thin surface coarse had been re-laid in the previous few years with the expectation that this would last for 10-12 years as it had done previously. However, now it was failing prematurely, the hard shoulder and lane 1 needed to be closed, reducing capacity for the road user. The reason needed to be urgently investigated and the lanes reopened as quickly as possible.
A-one+ completed trial holes and falling weight deflectometer (FWD) testing to identify if the wetlands either side of the motorway were causing drainage issues and waterlogging to the sub-base. Agreements with Highways England meant that the project could and should be accelerated, as the road surface was degrading rapidly during the investigation process. The question was how to repair it and how to do it quickly.
A delegation from A-one+ attended one of LMS Highways’ popular Lunch and Learn events last year.
Managing director Paul Winter was talking about the successful launch of LMS Civil Solutions specialising in concrete bay replacements, in addition to the other works that the company delivers.
The team at A-one+ recognised that to complete the required works to the timescales needed, using a mix of contractors simply wasn’t viable. Close project integration and assurance of programme was an absolute requirement, therefore one subcontractor could keep the contractor interface simple and speed up the design process, if they had specialists in the following areas:
- New drainage needed to be installed to prevent waterlogging
- Continuously reinforced concrete pavement (CRCP) needed in areas of severe degradation
- The jointed concrete slabs needed to be treated and sealed to prevent water from penetrating the wearing course below
- Thin bond repairs where concrete degradation was in patches
- Plug Joints – Non-standard detail and life expired joints needed collaborative approach to the investigation and reinstatement
- Road marking and studs after new surface course laid.
Works took place over a combination of nights/days and weekends to complete the project as quickly as possible.
A-one+ milled out the surface course of the hard shoulder and lane 1 in preparation for LMS Highways to commence works.
The LMS Civil Solutions team tackled the drainage first, followed by eight shifts of CRCP repairs. Simultaneously the LMS joint repair crews planed out and sealed transverse and longitudinal joints, completed thin bond repairs and plug joints.
Once sections of road were completed, the surface course was re-laid, the road marking and road studs reinstated by the LMS road marking crew and the road reopened.
Junction 2 slip roads of M180 were a little more complicated as the surface course could not be removed in advance and the busy junction could not be closed during normal hours.
To avoid disruption to the road user the slip roads were surveyed in collaboration between A-one+ and LMS Highways prior to a complete weekend of junction closure. Over one weekend, the road was milled, repaired, surface course re-laid, road markings reinstated and road reopened ready for Monday morning rush hour.
Over a matter of weeks, over 11000 lm of joints repairs and 350m2 of CRCP repairs were carried out.
‘The package of specialist services supplied by LMS Highways supported the needs of the work well and made it a quick, efficient project with a single point of contact for the works,’ commented Gareth Lewis, value management manager at A-one+.
By combining LMS Highways and LMS Civil Solutions highly experienced teams, they were uniquely placed in the market to deliver these works rapidly.
This was due to a single-contractor interface, early contractor involvement and streamlined programming for the project, meaning the work was completed quickly and on-budget, avoiding costly delays for the road user.
‘From our point of view, from the very first discussion, it was a pleasure to work with A-one+. Not only did they have a very clear idea of the challenges but they were very keen to learn from the benefit of our experience in handling larger-scale repair schemes,’ said Mr Winter. ‘We felt there was a great level of collaboration in this scheme’.
A-one + were completely satisfied with the solutions provided by the teams and are now looking at further projects in their areas where the LMS ‘Kerb to Kerb’ service would be beneficial.