Managing highway infrastructure

Highways asset management

Kent County Council maintains 8,700km (5,400 miles) of highway network and associated assets.

Our roads, footways, street lights, street furniture, traffic signals, gullies and drains, trees, grass verges, signs, road markings, bridges and other structures are all different types of highway asset. These assets help to ensure that journeys around and through the county are safe and reliable.

Our local highway network is the most valuable asset we own in Kent. It plays a vital part in delivering our vision in Kent County Council’s strategic statement Increasing Opportunities, Improving Outcomes, which sets out our ambitions towards 2020. Our roads provide safe and reliable journeys, which support social and economic prosperity. They also facilitate the transport of services essential to health and wellbeing, such as emergency services, medical services and food transportation.

Like many councils, Kent is facing significant challenges in maintaining a safe and reliable highway network during a time of diminishing resource, ageing highway assets and increasing public expectation. This is a national issue but affects Kent given the scale of our highway network and our proximity to London, the Dartford crossings and Europe.

The Government has changed the rules for funding highway maintenance. An increasing proportion of government funding is now dependent on local authorities being able to evidence that they fully use asset management techniques in highway maintenance. Asset management describes a common sense approach to the maintenance and future investment decisions for all the assets that make up our highway.

We are already doing much of this and are embedding asset management principles into the day-to-day management of our roads. This includes understanding their life cycle cost so that we can make informed investment decisions, maximising efficiency and value-for-money. We must ensure that we have well-managed highway infrastructure that is fit for purpose, not only now but for future generations. We recognise the challenge and have adopted three key documents to set out our approach going forward, available on this page. These documents outline how we use asset management principles to support and achieve the county council’s priorities.

A new code of practice – Well-managed Highway Infrastructure

Well-managed Highway Infrastructure was published in October 2016, replacing Well-maintained Highways, Management of Highway Structures and Well-lit Highways. Like its predecessors, Well-managed Highway Infrastructure is a national, non-statutory code of practice which sets out a series of general principles for highway maintenance. It is endorsed and recommended by the Department for Transport and its production has been overseen by the UK Roads Liaison Group (UKRLG) and its Roads, Bridges and Lighting Boards.

We must demonstrate that we comply with the principles of Well-managed Highway Infrastructure. We must also demonstrate a robust decision-making process, an understanding of the consequences of those decisions, and how the associated risks are managed to ensure highway safety. As part of that process, we have formally adopted two key documents:

These documents illustrate how our approach contributes to delivering our strategic outcomes and describes our strategy for delivering a risk-based approach going forward.

We are currently documenting our highway maintenance service standards and associated risk assessments, which will be published here in early 2019.