Economic, Environmental and Social Impacts of Changes in Maintenance Spend on the Scottish Trunk Road Network

6 Refining the scenarios: A subjective assessment

6.1 Overview

Road maintenance and operational budgets cover numerous activities within any Road Administration, each of which has a different focus in terms of its relative contribution to the overall corporate objectives. For example, the objective of maintaining directional road signs is primarily to enable reliable and predictable travel for the road user, whereas the objective of maintaining road median barriers is to enable safe travel for the road user. Identifying how best to minimise the impact of any road operational and maintenance budget reductions requires a view on the relative importance of each of the various objectives and the contribution made to those objectives by the different maintenance activities.

A Road Administration sets out its objectives in a Corporate Plan and linking those objectives to each operational activity is achieved by developing levels of service for each activity. However, there is no straightforward way of directly linking levels of service with levels of activity. The New Zealand Transport Agency, in its most recent unpublished draft Asset Management Plan, has attempted a very preliminary and transparent approach to assist with this refinement to its budget planning.

For this study, a similar approach has been adopted so that the impact of the budget scenarios to be tested (overall 20% and 40% reductions) is refined, with each activity delivering proportional contributions to the overall reduction depending on its contribution to the Transport Scotland stated objectives for asset management.

6.2 Assessment approach

In Transport Scotland's Road Asset Management Plan (RAMP) (Transport Scotland, 2007b) (Transport Scotland, 2007b), a number of asset management drivers, or objectives, are stated. These are safety, accessibility, reliability, condition, sustainability, value for money and customer care. Each activity will contribute to one or more of these objectives in different proportions. Using these objectives, the approach adopted for this study was:

  • For each activity in the road operations and maintenance budget, a subjective assessment was made of which objective(s) the activity contributes towards, and the relative balance of the contribution. For example, it might be postulated that maintenance of road markings and reflector studs is carried out 90% for safety and 10% for customer care;
  • The activity spend was proportioned by each of the drivers (e.g. in the above example, 90% of the current road marking and reflector studs budget would be allocated to safety and 10% would be allocated to customer care);
  • Each activity was summarised so that the total budget was shown as a summation of allocations to each of the asset management objectives;
  • When reductions were applied, a view was taken on which asset management objective should be challenged. In this study, for example, for Scenario 2, 10% of the reduction is attributed to the condition objective notional allocation and 5% to each of the sustainability and customer care notional allocations;
  • The 10% of the overall budget being taken out of the condition objective represents a significantly higher proportional reduction on the condition objective allocation in itself (in this case, 10/30 or 33% - see Table 6.1). The proportional reduction required from each notional allocation was assessed for all objectives and budget heads;
  • All reductions were apportioned at the total budget level through each activity and the new budgets available for each activity determined for the overall budget levels throughout the analysis period.

In this way, various activities were reduced by different amounts depending on their contribution to the various objectives and the relative importance assigned to each.

6.3 Assessment results

In reviewing the objectives, it was decided that Value for Money is a principal driver for all activities and that, with the information available, it was not possible to discriminate between the Value for Money contributions for different activities. For this reason, Value for Money was excluded as an objective from the analysis and was therefore not considered as a criterion for reducing the allocations. The resulting allocations derived for the Scenario 1 (current expenditure) and Scenarios 2 and 3 for reduced funding are shown in Table 6.1.

Table 6.1 Scenario allocations by asset management objective


Contribution to overall budget by asset management objective






Customer care


Scenario 1








Scenario 2








Scenario 3








The rationale of the above reductions was that safety, accessibility and reliability are all primary customer impacts and should be protected from cuts as long as possible. The assumption made was that at significant budget reductions, value for money in terms of delivering solutions which minimise long term whole of life costs (through condition and sustainability) or softer customer care outcomes (e.g. appearance of the network maintained by landscaping or graffiti removal) will have to be sacrificed to deliver the primary customer impacts.

Therefore, for Scenario 2 (a 20% overall budget reduction for the first 10 years), the reductions were applied to condition, sustainability and customer care only. At the more significant 40% reduction (for the first 10 years) for Scenario 3, funding for each of condition, sustainability and customer care activities were further reduced and sustainability and customer care were removed completely (these aspects would feed into the overall objectives but budgets would not be allocated for these sole purposes). Some reductions to the other primary customer care objectives were also required and this was achieved by challenging the reliability objective.

The results of apportioning the budget reductions are shown in Table 6.2 and Table 6.3 and in more detail in Appendix B. Table 6.2 shows the work activities assumed to contribute to each budget head and Table 6.3 shows how the budget in each of the heads change for each Scenario.

6.4 Conclusions on subjective assessment

The process provided more immediate clarity on where the real impacts would be felt if overall budget reductions were applied as in Scenarios 2 and 3.

At a 20% total budget reduction, the analysis showed that structural maintenance of pavements, at only 56% of its original budget, would be most adversely affected. This would be further accentuated at the 40% total budget reduction in which the budget would be reduced to 24% of the current level.

6.4.1 Scenario 2: 20% reduction - focus of impacts

For Scenario 2, those activities most adversely affected (i.e. reductions of 40% or more on the current budget in each of the first 10 years for the specific activity) were:

  • Overlay and reconstruction. Road users would experience a significant decrease in road conditions over time.
  • Graffiti removal and landscape planting. Customers would see significant deterioration in aesthetics.
  • Traffic counts. The ability to manage the asset and plan for the future would be reduced with less information available to support maintenance decisions and performance reporting.
  • Payments and claims. Transport Scotland would need to take a stronger view when answering claims from customers and contractors.

6.4.2 Scenario 3: 40% reduction - focus of impacts

For Scenario 3, those activities most adversely affected (i.e. reductions of 70% or more on the current budget in each of the first 10 years for the specific activity) were the same as for Scenario 2, but showed more significant changes. As well as the activities affected in Scenario 2, which would all reduce to 40%, or less, of the current allocations, there would be significant reductions in routine and cyclic budgets. The impact would be felt strongly even in some very sensitive areas of activity. For example, maintenance of noise barriers, fences and screens would be reduced to 60% of their current allocations.

The outcome of this process has been used in each of the following more detailed analyses to refine the assessed impact of the cuts in overall budget on the specific activities.

Table 6.2 Work activities included in each budget head

Budget Heads and Descriptions of Works

Inventory, inspection, testing, routine and cyclic activity

Cyclic Maintenance (Monthly Lump Sum)

Road and lighting and electrical work

Patching Flexible Roads

New footways and cycle tracks

Patching Concrete Roads

Graffiti removal

Maintenance of footways and cycle tracks

Technical surveys and investigations

Raising and replacing of existing kerbs

Winter maintenance (monthly Lump Sums)

Maintenance of safety fence


Maintenance of pedestrian guard rails

Routine Services (Lump Sum)

Maintenance of road traffic signals, signs and bollards

Electricity charges

Retaining wall under 1.5m

Changes in scope of operations

Remedial earthworks to embankments and cuttings

General Expenditure

Drainage and culverts under 2m

DCP Monthly Sum

Road markings and reflector studs

Damages >£5,000

Fences, walls, screens and noise barriers

Damage repair & cost recovery service <=£10,000

Landscape and planting

Payment for damage repair >£10,000

Pedestrian crossings and furniture

Claims for additional payment - not accepted by Director


Traffic counts

Structural maintenance - pavements


Surface Dressing


Provision of Special Anti Skid Treatment


Structural maintenance - structures

Bridges and Culverts 2 metres and over, retaining wall over 1.5 metres and other structures

Principal and General Inspections (Monthly Lump Sum)

Bridge Strengthening

Structural Assessment

Major Bridges

Special Investigations

Silane Treatment

General Expenditure - Bridges

Protective Coatings to Steel Structures

Minor improvements

Individual Accident and Prevention Schemes

Individual Improvement Schemes

Table 6.3 Budget reductions based on contribution to asset management drivers

Budget Head

Proposed new budget head spend as percentage of current budget head spend

Scenario 2:

Overall 20% cut

Scenario 3:

Overall 40% cut

Inventory, inspection, testing, routine and cyclic activity






Structural maintenance - pavements



Structural maintenance - structures



Minor improvements



Total overall budget