TRL releases free road maintenance budgeting tool

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The UK’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) has launched a free software tool to enable highway authorities across the country to achieve greater road maintenance and repair cost efficiencies.

The tool, which is available free of charge to members of the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA) and UK local authorities, allows users to compare the lifecycle cost of road maintenance treatments across the areas of reconstruction, resurfacing, and full range of road surface treatments. Users are able to compare costs over a 50-year period, in order to identify the most cost effective solution for their needs. The software, which is part of TRL’s iROADS asset management software suite, was launched at the spring conference of the RSTA in response to growing local authority demand for asset management software with enhanced planning and budgeting capability. The software was developed over a six-month period by TRL under the auspices of an industry working party, comprising representatives from the RSTA, Highway Term Maintenance Association (HTMA), Local Government Technical Advisors Group (TAG) and members of ADEPT (Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport), which represents local authority chief officers, and the MSIG Highway Maintenance and Asset Management Group.

The introduction of the treatment selection tool follows the launch of the UK Department for Transportation’s (DfT) Highways Maintenance Appraisal Tool (HMAT) software, a spreadsheet-based model that is designed to estimate the wider benefits that arise from road maintenance, developed by TRL. It also reflects TRL’s ongoing dedication to streamlining innovation and efficiency across the UK’s local and strategic road networks. RSTA will be working closely with TRL to provide training courses aimed at local authorities that wish to use the tool.

“This is another example of how we are helping the public sector to facilitate best practice and drive sustained cost reductions,” noted Rob Wallis, chief executive of TRL. “By enabling users to rapidly calculate the cost-benefit analysis of each road maintenance treatment, we can help drive down cost inefficiencies and enable a more planned approach to road maintenance.”

Clive Hall, head of highways and community services for Herefordshire Council and vice chairman of the MSIG highway maintenance and asset management task group, commented, “This tool will support sound investment decisions for the public sector and enable RSTA members to demonstrate how their products and services can help deliver the best return on the investment made in local roads.

“Prevention is better than cure, and so it is essential that we are aware of the full spectrum of surface treatment options, and understand where they fit in our lifecycle plans. The tool’s evolution is a great example of public and private sector collaboration. Businesses have worked with local authorities to develop a solution that enables greater efficiencies to be achieved, demonstrating best practice in the field. The tool will also allow suppliers to engage more effectively with local authorities and show where their product and/or service best fits within a lifecycle plan to reduce the whole life cost of road maintenance.”

Howard Robinson, RSTA’s chief executive, added, “TRL’s new software will enable the public sector to make smarter choices going forward across the field of road maintenance. We are delighted to have contributed toward the development of this new pavement decision tool and to have facilitated the involvement of key industry stakeholders to help gain their support. This new tool will allow public sector transport planners to more easily demonstrate best practice methods of working in road maintenance budgeting and management.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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