Studies have shown that utility trenching can have a detrimental effect on both the surface condition and the underlying structure of highways, thereby shortening their service lives. In the UK, there is also increasing political and public concern regarding the negative impact of reinstatement patches on the visual appearance of the nation’s highways. Analysis of FWD data obtained from reinstatements in carriageways is reported. This estimated that the median reduction in the service life of the pavement structure due to trenching is 17 per cent. The additional maintenance costs incurred by highway authorities due the premature deterioration in the structural and surface condition of carriageways have been estimated assuming this service life reduction. Also, the additional maintenance costs incurred due to the premature deterioration in the structural, surface and visual condition of footways has been estimated assuming a 10 per cent service life reduction due to trenching. The costs for 2007/08 were estimated to be £49.8m for carriageways and £20.3m for footways, although these are considered to be low estimates of the full impact of trenching on highways. A charge structure has been developed that enables charges to be levied against those trenching the highway in order to recover these additional maintenance costs. The charges vary according to the highway condition, and are higher the better the condition. The highest charges for 2007/2008 were estimated to be £45.48/m2 for Major carriageways (Type 0, 1, 2 and 3 roads), £28.74/m2 for Minor carriageways (Type 4 roads), £23.89/m2 for category 1(a) and 1 footways and £11.95/m2 for category 2 to 4 footways. It is proposed that the charges be levied either as part of a permit charge under Section 55 of the Traffic Management Act 2004 or using the reinstatement notices already required under Section 78 of the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991. Using charge rates to recover the additional maintenance costs is considered to be more practical and equitable than a requirement for one particular undertaker to carry out half- or full-width resurfacing.

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