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Feature: The road less travelled

Work is underway on the UK’s largest road renewal recycling scheme, which is due to be completed by Easter 2006. The £8 million works on the five-mile dual
carriageway of the A38 between Drybridge and Peartree junctions is in need of full replacement.

The project is taking place because the road material has become brittle and segregated, causing cracking
to appear in the carriageway. This has led to a rapid deterioration within a matter of weeks, necessitating emergency patching works to ensure that the road surface remains safe to drive on.

The carriageway, originally constructed in 1968, is being removed and then re-used to create a base mat-erial that is put back into the carriageway. A 100mm new asphalt surface is then laid on top and approximately 70% of the carriageway is made from the recycled aggregate.

Highways Agency (HA) project sponsor Nigel Dyson says: “While traffic delays are inevitable during the work, in the longer term, drivers will benefit from a smoother, quieter road surface and there will no longer be the need for the growing amount of short-term work.

“Although we anticipate delays during the main commuting hours, we hope motorists will understand the longer term benefits of this essential reconstruction work. The road has seen nearly 40 years of service, and is now in need of major maintenance to ensure it remains in good condition for many years to come.

“With a project of this scale, delays to traffic are inevitable, especially during peak travel periods, so
we are asking drivers who regularly use the road to
start thinking about whether they can avoid the worst delays by adjusting their working hours to avoid peak times, using the trains and buses or car sharing.”

As a government agency of the Department for Transport, the HA has an important role in driving the sustainability agenda. According to the agency, its environmental strategy promotes the use of low noise surfacing,
recycled materials in road construction and environmentally friendly lighting. In 2003 it implemented a bio-diversity action plan, which delivers improvements for habitats and species, such as badger tunnels and otter crossings, throughout the network.

International consultancy Parsons Brinckerhoff worked in partnership with the HA and TRL, which provides research and advice on transport, to produce a design that will involve the excavation and recycling of 70,000 tonnes of material, providing an alternative to newly quarried aggregate. This removes the need for thousands of extra lorry journeys needed to transport materials to and from the site, causing less noise and air pollution for local residents.

Tarmac is the principle contractor for the scheme and is responsible for all works, not just the resurfacing, including the safety barrier, civil engineering works, drainage, bridge decks, traffic management, vehicle recovery and waterproofing of structures.

To date, Tarmac has had 300 personnel working on the project, with a core of 25-30 people on-site at all times. Alan Sheppard, director of recycling at Tarmac, says: “Tarmac is committed to meeting the needs of
the future — from the perspective of environment as
well as from the perspective of the fast-changing construction industry.

“Our continuous programme of research and development into recycled aggregates

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