Guernsey is criss-crossed by a network of roads, streets, lanes and pavements. Collectively, this network is known as the 'public highway'.
Maintenance of Public Roads
- Traffic and Highway Services is responsible for the following aspects of the upkeep of public roads:
- The maintenance of the structure and wearing surfaces of the road network. This includes the carriageway (the roads themselves), and the footways (pavements).
- The maintenance of the surfaces of green lanes.
- Road cleansing
- The management, collection and disposal of surface waters that fall on and/or pass under the road network (road drainage).
- The management and maintenance of a variety of supporting infrastructure and environmental assets (e.g. some of the trees in St Julian's Avenue).
- Like all assets and infrastructure, roads deteriorate through wear and tear from vehicles, weather, and works in the road and will need work to improve them from time to time. All work is completed as quickly and efficiently as possible.
- Traffic and Highway Services plans roads resurfacing three years in advance. This longer term planning helps to use money more effectively and assists the utilities in planning their works and allows better coordination of works to minimise inconvenience to the public.
- These repairs improve the long-term condition of the roads; which means that smaller wear and tear repairs, such as filling in potholes, are required less frequently.
- Condition of a road is largely determined through:
- Condition surveys using specialist equipment;
- Inspections by a highways engineerReports from parishes, community groups, or from the public.
- When allocating resources staff will also take account of:
- Annual budget;
- Any related policies;
- Importance of the road to Island life (busier roads are prioritised);
- The utilities' programmes of work;
- Public or private developments.
- Each scheme included in an annual programme will have been considered carefully on the basis of what is the most appropriate method of treatment/repair. Traffic and Highway Services targets expenditure towards getting the best long-term value for money from the budgets it manages.
Information for Residents
- Traffic and Highway Services sends out early notification one year before resurfacing works. This is intended to help residents and businesses and allow them time undertake any alterations which they may be thinking of making.
- This could be:
- extensions to your property;
- alterations to driveways, boundary walls, or hedges;
- Alterations to utility connections.
- If you have a vehicular access which crosses a footpath and where the kerbs have not been lowered, you may wish to take advantage of this opportunity to do so.
- Please note, once a road has been resurfaced, it is Traffic and Highway Services' policy not to allow excavations, other than emergencies, in either the road or footway for 3 years after completion of the surfacing. Also, it is not possible to undertake road works within the 6 months immediately prior to resurfacing because this can lead to settlement of the new road.
- If you are experiencing supply problems with any of the utilities, you are urged to contact the relevant supplier as early as possible in order that the problem may be investigated and rectified prior to the start of the project.
- If you are planning any other works which may affect a road or pavement it would be extremely helpful if you would provide full details of any such proposed works by email to: email@example.com, or telephone 01481 224300.
- Please be aware that any works which affect the road or footpath require prior written permission from Traffic and Highway Services. Failure to obtain prior permission could result in a fine being imposed of up to £1000.
- Application forms for planning permission are available here and information on roads under embargo can be viewed at: https://roadworks.gov.gg/GSW/Roadworks.htm and select "Resurfacing" in the drop down menu.
- Shortly before the road works are due to start the Traffic and Highway Services will write to residents and businesses providing further details on the works.
- In some instances, it may be necessary to alter the level of the road or footpath at the junction with property boundaries. Where work is required to be undertaken on your property to accommodate the new levels, the contractor will contact you in advance to discuss the nature of the proposed works.
- Information on all road works, diversion routes and on future projects can be found on the website, https://roadworks.gov.gg/GSW/Roadworks.htm
- Traffic and Highway Services would like to thank you in advance for bearing with any inconvenience brought about by necessary road improvement works
- Traffic and Highway Services is responsible for cleaning of roads, pavements, and public disc-zone car parks, helping to keep the highways clear of litter and debris. This also includes dealing with fly tipping on roads and the build-up of leaves, or any other similar issues.
- Traffic and Highway Services organises and oversees the:
- Cleansing of roads and pavements
- Traffic and Highway Services operates a rolling programme of street cleaning which is reviewed annually to ensure we respond to Guernsey's needs. Roads with heavy use, particularly heavy pedestrian use tend to accumulate more litter than other areas, which is reflected in the number of times a road is visited. For example, the centre of Town and the Bridge will be visited daily, with the rest of the Island on a rolling schedule.
- Maintenance of road drainage
- The cleaning of road gullies and emptying of the silt pits primarily undertaken by mechanical cleaning, but in some difficult locations this may have to be hand. This is essential maintenance required to prevent the flooding of roads and properties.
- Washing of Steps and Vennels
- Spraying of weeds along the highways
- Within the water catchment area that feeds water into the various reservoirs it is not permitted to spray roadside weeds. The spraying of weeds outside of water catchment area is undertaken to help maintain roads.
- Inspection and maintenance of trees owned by Traffic and Highway Services
- Maintenance of roadside landscaping owned by Traffic and Highway Services (for example the green at La Villette)
- Winter & Storm maintenance- clearing snow & ice, etc.
The clearing of snow and ice on selected critical routes during periods of severe weather conditions, and the clearing of debris from coastal roads following high tides and stormy conditions, often undertaken in adverse condition in order to keep the roads safe to the general public.
- Maintenance of litter bins owned by Traffic and Highway Services
The providing and emptying of litter bins located at selected sites within the highway network. Many other bins are provided by other public bodies and Parish Douzaines.
- Maintenance of roadside landscaping
Traffic and Highway Services will cut roadside verges or hedges it owns regularly. Please note that most roadside verges, banks, hedges, and walls are in private ownership and their maintenance is the responsibility of the land owners.
- Roads perform many functions and are subject to competing demands. A balance must be struck between road safety, traffic flow, environmental quality, and the impact on residents.
- The objectives of designating a road hierarchy are in order to:
- reduce the degrading effects of motor vehicles upon the physical environment caused by air pollution, excessive noise and vibration;
- improve and enhance the environment, especially for vulnerable road users;
- balance the competing demands placed on individual roads; and
- ensure the optimum use of the existing road network.
- The designation of a road hierarchy supports public transport, parking and development control policies.
- Description of Types of Routes within Guernsey's Road Hierarchy:
- Inter Harbour HGV Route
- The route links St Sampson's and St Peter Port Harbours. It is unique in Guernsey terms insomuch as it must accommodate long articulated vehicles and very high traffic flows. This route is of strategic importance for freight deliveries and linking the two main urban areas of the Island. For these reasons the functional emphasis is one of mobility and free traffic flow.
- Traffic Priority Routes
- Traffic Priority Routes have high traffic flows and the capacity to accept 9T axle loads. They comprise the busiest of the Island's main roads. These are key routes whose primary function is to distribute traffic throughout the Island. The functional emphasis is again on mobility and free traffic flow.
- Local Circulation Routes
- Local Circulation Routes comprise main roads, which have lower traffic flows than Traffic Priority Routes, often with significant frontage activity. They must accommodate limited through traffic and traffic movements terminating within the surrounding areas.
- Neighbourhood and Country Roads
- Predominately residential in character with little or no through traffic but may include other areas such as rural lanes. The functional emphasis is primarily one of access to individual properties and provision for vulnerable road users.
- A map detailing the Hierarchy is available here [1019kb].
Excavations in the public highway
- Traffic and Highway Services is responsible for the maintenance of public roads and thoroughfares. The public highway includes the carriageway, verges and footpath of any road, street, lane, alley or passage repairable in whole or in part by the States.
- It is tasked with undertaking highway maintenance, the inspection of highway works and to execute the statutory requirements contained in The Public Thoroughfares (Guernsey) Law of 1958.
- The various equipment including ducts, cables, chambers and access covers that are placed within the public highway are the property of the utility/body in question. It is their responsibility to ensure they are fit for purpose and safe.
- Please be aware that any works which affect the road or footpath require prior written permission from Traffic and Highway Services. Failure to obtain prior permission could result in a fine being imposed.
- Prior written permission is not required from utilities, except where specified within the document " GR2017-01 Road Opening and Reinstatements [2Mb]".
- Requirements and Specification for the Opening & Reinstatement of Works in the Public Highway
- The Public Thoroughfares (Guernsey) Law 1958 requires parties working in a public thoroughfare to comply with the conditions as issued by Traffic and Highway Services.
- The " GR2017-01 Road Opening and Reinstatements [2Mb]" document is to be considered part of Traffic and Highway Services' conditions for how to undertake works in the public highway. It can be found in the 'downloads' section.
- The conditions in this documents apply to all works, including remedial works, carried out within or adjacent to the public highway. Traffic & Highway Services and the Utilities will work together to ensure effective management of works in the highway.
- Statutory undertakers and others wishing to undertake works within public thoroughfares are required to notify Traffic and Highway Services in order to open and reinstate the any works in the public highway, and must comply with the conditions as issued.
- Following resurfacing works, Traffic and Highway Services places the newly surfaced area under an embargo from the date of completion. No excavations apart from emergency works for safety reasons are permitted for a period of three years.
- The details of embargoed sections of highway are held on IRIS and available here: https://roadworks.gov.gg/GSW/Roadworks.htm
- The embargo period is intended to provide a period, after major highway maintenance works:
- Where residents and businesses are not subject to further disruption;
- To focus works programmes within a tighter period to encourage shared working;
- To stop the immediate damage to the Public Highway and its associated reduction in service life; and
- To enable the effective implementation of a 'Guarantee Period' for the newly laid road surface, by excluding further works during this period.
- Any other works within an embargoed section of the Public Highway can only be undertaken with the approval of Traffic & Highway Services.
- Lead in Period
- Reinstatement works may settle over time especially when trafficked, for this reason Traffic and Highway Services will not permit any excavation works six months prior to a resurfacing project, to ensure that any settlement has already occurred when the resurfacing takes place.#
Charges for excavations - Questions and Answers
- At its meeting in September 2015, the States discussed proposals to charge companies that dig up the island's roads. These will help to improve the condition of the road network and reduce the need for costly repairs and resurfacing.
- Q: Is this charge for road closures?
- No. The proposals relate specifically to paying for the damage caused by excavations in the road. That is not the case with all closures (or works carried out under temporary one ways or temporary traffic lights). The charges would not apply, for instance, to closures or traffic measures for road resurfacing, erection of scaffolding, tree-felling or removals.
- Q: Who will the charge apply to?
- Any utility company, construction firm, or contractor who wants to carry out excavation in a surfaced road.
- Q. What qualifies as an excavation?
- Any work that involves digging a trench or hole through the surface of the road to install, maintain or repair pipework, cables, or any other services under the ground.
- Q: Why are you proposing to charge for digging up the road?
- Excavations reduce the overall service life of a road and accelerate the deterioration of the surface. Taxpayers currently have to meet the extra costs that arise due to additional maintenance requirements and, in many cases, the need for resurfacing sooner than should be necessary. It is reasonable for companies that undertake such work, and benefit from it, to contribute to mitigating the damage caused.
- Q: How does digging up the road affect its life?
- Excavations damage both the surface and base structure of a road, which in turn leaves it vulnerable to further deterioration. A recent independent study of UK local authorities reported, "most highways engineers believe the effect of deep trenching reduces road life by at least 30%."
- Q: What condition are Guernsey's roads currently in?
- A condition survey of all the island's roads in 2013 found that 6% were in very poor condition and in immediate need of resurfacing - in mileage terms, twice what the States of Guernsey would normally resurface in a year. It included some of the island's busiest roads (some of which have since been addressed), as well as minor routes which are lower priority, but will be dealt with in due course.
Of greater concern nearly a third of the island's (approx. 74 miles) were identified as requiring maintenance. Without additional remedial work they will deteriorate further, adding to the backlog of works and investment.
- Q: Why have the roads been allowed to deteriorate?
- The condition of the islands roads has deteriorated over many years, due to a number of factors. These include wear from increasing volumes of traffic, particularly heavy vehicles. There has also been a high number of excavations, due to the amount of local development, and the fact that services are generally buried underground and require installation, maintenance and repair. Meanwhile investment in the local roads programme has not kept pace with what is required to maintain the desired standard across the network. In some instances in the past, routine works have not addressed underlying issues, leading to more extensive work being required in the future.
- Q: Should the reinstatement of roads be better?
Traffic and Highway Services already has a robust inspection regime, but it is very difficult, if not impossible, to restore a road to its original state once it has been dug into.
- Q: Will this mean fewer potholes?
- Probably, in the long term. Potholes occur because the road surface has become damaged, and more often than not this is the result it being dug in the past. Providing incentives to reduce the amount of excavations, and increasing targeted expenditure on preventative maintenance, should therefore result in fewer potholes.
- Q: Do we need to maintain roads to a better standard?
- Maintaining the island's roads to a good standard is a good investment for a number of reasons. First, we all rely on the road network to some extent, and it needs to be of sufficient standard for safety of all users. Second, the condition of the surface is often a sign of problems that may lie beneath, which if not addressed can cause much more significant issues and potential failure. Third, islanders have a realistic expectation that the road network should be of a good standard, unnecessary works avoided, and disruption due to closures kept to a minimum.
- Q: Why not make better use of the current budget?
- A number of potential options have been considered to reduce current expenditure. They include only carrying out repairs when problems arise, with no preventative maintenance, or a more limited resurfacing programme for priority roads only and shorter term repairs elsewhere. However, these do nothing to address the current state of the island's roads if the ongoing deterioration, and simply put off the issue for the future, when even greater investment would be required.
Even at the current funding for resurfacing, the condition of the island's roads is forecast to continue to decline, with as many as a quarter being in the worst category (i.e. very poor) within 10 years.
A combination of targeted investment now and incentives to reduce the damage by digging up roads is the most cost effective approach to address their current condition and reduce long-term deterioration.
- Q: Why not find efficiency savings to reduce costs?
- The two areas of greatest expenditure on road maintenance are labour and materials, the costs of which have increased steadily over the years while the overall budget has not. Traffic and Highway Services has therefore already had to work more efficiently, including:-
- Targeted expenditure - focusing expenditure on key priorities, and planning longer term maintenance for areas where the need is less pressing.
- Reducing the cost of resurfacing - changes to the way roads are resurfaced means a greater area can now completed each year for the same budget.
- Extension of guarantee period. In 2015, Traffic and Highway Services extended the warranty for most utility reinstatements from three to five years. Companies will therefore have to take greater care to ensure the workmanship in reinstating roads is of the highest quality.
- Working with developers - more proactive engagement with architects and developers means they are of the need to liaise with Traffic and Highway Services well in advance of any work being carried out near to roads, therefore minimising the potential for damage.
- Recycling materials - Traffic and Highway Services began recycles chippings from old road surfaces, for use in resurfacing projects and reducing new material costs.
- Q: Are companies not responsible for the quality of their work?
- Yes. Anyone digging up a road has to guarantee the reinstatement. Any deterioration in the road surface during this warranty period, linked to the excavation, has to be repaired at their expense.
The warranty period was recently extended from three years to five, which should reduce the amount being spent on repairs by tens of thousands of pounds a year.
However, once a road have been dug up, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to restore it to its original condition, however good the reinstatement.
- Q: Will the cost be passed on to customers? Will I pay twice?
- Where work is carried out by a company, it may only benefit its own customers, but the additional costs created by their excavations currently have to be met by all taxpayers. Charges will help redress that balance.
Each company can decide whether to absorb the costs or pass them on to customers. However there are opportunities to avoid charges by good forward planning, using trenchless technology, excavating through private land, or duct-sharing. The proposed charges are an incentive to consider these options, and other ways to reduce charges, therefore minimising any need to pass on costs.
- Any money raised from the new charges will be directed towards the maintenance of roads, enabling more work to improve their condition which would otherwise require additional funding from general revenue - i.e. taxpayers.
- Q. How will companies be able to avoid the charges?
- As an example, if a road is on Traffic and Highway Services' resurfacing programme (i.e. it has been identified as being in poor condition and in need of repair in the next few years), there would be no charge for excavating in it.
- Q: Do other countries charge for this?
- Many other countries and jurisdictions operate a 'user pays' principle for recovering funds from third parties to maintain the road surface.
- Q: When will this be introduced?
- If approved by the States, the charges will be introduced from 1st January 2017.
- Q: How will the charge be calculated?
- Any project that involves digging in the road would incur a fixed charge, to cover the cost of administration of the charge and inspections. There will also be a separate variable element, based on the extent of the excavation, the age of the road, and the nature of the road (i.e. whether it is a main route or a minor road).
- Q: How much income will this bring in?
- Based on the excavations in the past few years it is estimated the administration charge will raise around £40,000 per year, and the variable element between £100,000 - £150,000 per year.
- Q: Have you consulted utilities/contractors?
- Yes. All of the main utility companies, the Guernsey Construction Industry Forum, as well as other States bodies have been consulted with. The feedback received has been used in drawing up the proposals.
- Q: This is just another stealth tax from the States?
- No. Islanders currently pay for routine road maintenance and resurfacing through their taxes. The proposed charges will raise some additional revenue, specifically for roads, but will also provide an incentive for companies who dig up the roads to consider how they can better plan or carry out works. This could reduce the costs currently being incurred due to excavations, and reduce the need to pass charges on to customers.
- Q: Will the income go to improve roads, or to general revenue?
- All income generated from this charge will go directly towards the maintenance of the public highway. No part of it will go to general revenue.