Valuing the Benefits of Highway Maintenance

Valuing the Benefits of Highway Maintenance


Phlipp Thiessen, DfT, John Collins, DfT, R. Abell, TRL


This paper disseminates research by TRL on behalf of the UK Department for Transport on valuing the benefits of road maintenance.


Well maintained highways are essential to every economy. Determining the value for money of road maintenance strategies is therefore a major challenge for transport analysts. In recent years, the effects of maintenance funding levels have been compared using the long term costs of future maintenance needs arising from current decisions: for example the costs of disruption to road users at maintenance works. However various studies of local roads in the UK have recognised that the impacts of maintenance funding levels are wider than simply the direct works costs and the costs of disruption to road users.

In line with a recognised asset management view of assessing road maintenance, TRL and the Department for Transport have developed a new analysis tool to assess the wider impacts of maintenance as well as the direct maintenance works costs. The tool is a major step forward in better understanding the value for money of highway maintenance strategies.

Our analysis tool uses the change in the condition of the road network over time under different spending trajectories to assess the impacts on both future maintenance budgets and the wider costs to road users and society such as vehicle operating costs and journey times. Currently, not all impacts can be quantified. Nevertheless the new tool enables users to consider a wide range of potential impacts from changing carriageway conditions under different funding levels and maintenance policies.

In this study, rather than develop another approach to the projection of carriageway condition for the road network, the Highway Maintenance Efficiency Programme (HMEP) Lifecycle Planning Toolkit was used for the prediction of conditions and maintenance need. Where possible, the enhanced functionality required for the economic analysis and assessment of wider impacts was developed from other established tools (e.g. HDM-4 for vehicle operating costs, QUADRO for the delays to road users at maintenance works and models for the carbon costs from vehicles and maintenance operations). These were then 'wrapped around' the core network condition analysis element to combine the lifecycle maintenance treatment costs with the other costs to road users and society.

The full paper will be submitted in August and will address:
• How the model has been developed;
• which economic impacts of highway maintenance have been captured and how;
• Potential uses of this model including to Local Highway Authorities;
• Initial results from a national level analysis.


Association for European Transport