‘Historic moment’ as Highways England releases first sections of updated DMRB

28/06/2018
Chris Ames

Highways England has published the first four sections of the updated Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB) – the document that sets the design and safety standards for the strategic road network.

The government-owned company is currently updating the manual with the aim of making it ‘clearer, more consistent and easier to understand and implement’.

It said the update puts design requirements at its core and it will also make it easier to incorporate developments in design best practice, which ‘will result in greater efficiency and innovation throughout the lifecycle of the assets, fewer departures from the requirements, and reduced time and associated cost’.

The re-drafting is being carried out using what Highways England called ‘a revolutionary online authoring tool’ that was built specifically for the project. It said this signals an important move to digital technology and unlocks the potential of digital innovations.

Chief highway engineer Mike Wilson (pictured) said: ‘The updated DMRB documents mark a historic moment for the design of the UK’s motorways and major A-roads.

‘I would like to thank the devolved administrations and our supply chain who have supported this significant review, which will ensure our roads are designed, built and maintained to the very highest, safest standards for the millions of drivers that use these roads every day.’

The first four documents of the updated DMRB are:

Highways England began updating the complete suite of over 350 documents and associated interim advice notes that make up the manual in April 2017 with the review due for completion by March 2020. This is a specific requirement of the Protocol attached to its licence.

A spokesperson for the company told Highways it was on track to meet the deadline, but was unable to state when the next batch of updates will be released.

Changes in the updated document include:

  • a new structure of the volumes to be aligned to asset life-cycle stages, from appraisal to design up to disposal
  • new numbering systems of documents reflecting the relevant asset life-cycle stage and the specific discipline covered by the document
  • new style of individual clauses to make a clear distinction between requirements and advisory material
  • incorporation of interim advice notes (IANs) into the DMRB as relevant
  • consolidation of DMRB ‘A’ (advisory) documents with related ‘D’ (design) documents
  • introduction of National Application Annexes attached to the DMRB to cover the specific requirements of the Overseeing Organisations

The new DMRB volumes and related digits are:

1) General Information: G

2) Appraisal: A

3) Design: D

4) Construction: C

5) Maintenance and Operation: M

6) Inspection and Assessment: S

7) Disposal: Z

The new document parts and related digits are:

1) General Principles and Scheme Governance: G

2) Sustainability and Environment: L

3) Civil Engineering: C (comprising road layout, pavement, structures and bridges, geotechnics and drainage)

4) Technology: T (comprising control and communications technology and road lighting)

Highways England said leading UK consultants have supported it with the update, and a new set of drafting rules has been used, which follows best practice from national and international standardisation organisations.

It added that it the updated manual supports its ‘The road to good design’ vision.

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