Sussex’s carriageways play a key role in enabling the efficient movement of people and freight through the county and directly contribute to East Sussex County Council’s (ESCC) economic, social, and environmental development and growth strategy plan. Metis was responsible for helping to secure funding by providing deterioration forecasting and lifecycle investment planning to support ESCC’s successful bid for additional funding to assist in enhancing the state of East Sussex’s roads and ensuring their long-term preservation.
Councils, including East Sussex, face a major challenge due to insufficient funding, as reinforced by the findings of the latest Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance Survey. (see ALARM Survey Findings). In 2023, the highway maintenance backlog in England and Wales reached a record high of £14B.
In recent years, extreme weather conditions, particularly in early 2023, have caused roads across England to deteriorate faster. This has put additional pressure on local councils’ carriageway maintenance budgets, resulting in a greater need to raise investment.
At the start of 2023, the ESCC’s cabinet members asked the ESCC to come up with a detailed modelling plan to help raise investment and demonstrate how the extra investment could be spent most effectively.
East Sussex County Council engaged Metis to conduct a lifecycle planning exercise and develop an investment plan for the county’s carriageway network.
We took a holistic and strategic approach, considering the objectives outlined by the ‘Local Transport Plan 3 ’ (LTP3) and translating the goals set by Cabinet in LTP3 into measurable targets for the highway network. For instance, enhancing personal health and well-being by encouraging and enabling increased physical activity through active travel requires good condition roads and footways.
We developed a detailed lifecycle planning strategy that explored various funding and maintenance scenarios. These scenarios helped decision-makers gain a clear understanding of the necessary carriageway investment over a ten-year period and the potential effects of different strategies on the network, including the outcomes if additional funding were not provided.
Our bespoke approach ensured that the exercise was specifically tailored to the context of ESCC highway network. We took into consideration trends in reactive maintenance (and their connection to capital investment and recent weather events) as well as local geological conditions in our scenario planning. We evaluated the most attainable outcomes within the available time and resources to enhance the overall road network and precent further deterioration. The diverse scenarios offered a level of detail that illustrated the intricacies of the road network challenges and the array of necessary actions.
Our approach significantly contributed to ESCC securing £15 million of additional funding for the planned maintenance of the county’s carriageway network. The extra investment will enable ESCC to adopt the most effective strategy proposed by our Infrastructure team and allocate additional front-loaded funding for even more preventive maintenance. In short, the funding will enable East Sussex to achieve its carriageway condition targets.
“Over recent winters, and in particular last winter, the weather has taken its toll on roads in East Sussex and across the country. I very much welcome this investment and believe residents will as well.”
Claire Dowling – lead member for Transport and Environment.
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