There are maintenance targets for roads and maintenance targets for paths. How do they compare? We need to distinguish between filling potholes and resurfacing. Needless to say, resurfacing is better. Similarly, community paths can be repaired superficially, or resurfaced or replaced. Unlike roads, paths are quite thin and replacement and resurfacing are quite similar processes.
- Rulers are a standard measure and comparison
- The paths
- The maintenance
- % of path network maintained per annum
- Road surfacing
- Strategic bike paths: 2.5 m or greater
Rulers are a standard measure and comparison
The old saying, “you cannot compare apples with pears,” reminds us that we need a common unit of measure. The metric system was invented to create units of measure. We can then measure things absolutely and compare things – without laying them side by side.
When examining TCCS data and reports, we have a similar problem. Different things are often measured differently in the reports. Although it does not make any sense to do this, it has developed historically. With different modes of transport, we want similar performance criteria and to measure the maintenance of the infrastructure through targets (and the quality of the service perhaps as well). Other factors may be repair delays since the fault was reported on Fix My Street or outages such as path closures.
In short, we need to design a ruler to measure and compare. A good example is the topic of this article: the repair and resurfacing of community paths compared to roads. TCCS use a different measure for these two things. If we were going to make a comparison, we need to compare similar with similar:
- number of pothole repairs on roads IS EQUIVALENT TO patch repairs on paths
- resurfacing of roads IS EQUIVALENT TO resurfacing of paths.
Last time we checked, potholes were measured in dollar value of work. In comparison, community path repairs are counted per intervention (comparable to counting potholes repaired). The best repair is resurfacing. We would expect a lot less resurfacing than filling potholes, as filling potholes is cheaper and easier than resurfacing.
ACT Transport is responsible for 2655 km of concrete paths and 390 km of asphalt paths. The widths vary from very narrow to wide.
The maintenance of the paths depends on the surface type. Concrete and asphalt have quite different characteristics and maintenance is therefore handled differently. For concrete the most common repair method is grinding defects, and for asphalt applying cold mix.
2.1 The works consist of the following;“Statement of Requirements (SOR)”, 31014-NCT-01 SoR Concrete and Asphalt Path Safety Hazards FINAL, tender 31014-RFT-01 Concrete and Asphalt Path Safety Hazards Maintenance Services, TCCS, released 29 July 2021, access 17 August 2021. 2.
• Grinding trip hazards on concrete paths that have a height differential ranging from 10 mm to 35 mm,
• Rectification of trip hazards on concrete paths that have a height differential greater than 35mm at the direction of the Principal.
• Rectification of trip hazards using cold-mix asphalt (asphalt and concrete path) (up to 1m2) with or without slab breakout as required; and
• Rectification of trip hazards due to pothole(s) using cold-mix (up to 1m2) on asphalt community paths as required
From the 31014-RFT-01 Concrete and Asphalt Path Safety Hazards Maintenance Services, 31014 Path Safety Hazards Addendum 1, we know:
that the defects quantity varies each financial year. However, the works completed in the previous 2 financial years are:31014 Path Safety Hazards Addendum 1, tender 31014-RFT-01 Concrete and Asphalt Path Safety Hazards Maintenance Services, TCCS, released 29 July 2021, access 17 August 2021. 2.
Number of path grinding defects = 777
Number of Asphalt placement (cold mix) = 2,118
Number of path grinding defects= 1,111
Number of Asphalt placement (cold mix) = 1314
|Surface||FY2020||FY2021||total by surface|
|total by year||2425||2895||5320|
% of path network maintained per annum
We can now work out repairs per kilometre.
Repairs per km of path length per annum
Assuming every repair is replacing 1 m of path length (the maximum patch area for cold mix is 1m2), we can make a comparison to the resurfacing targets on roads.
Repairs as a % of the total path length per annum
Territorial roads are sealed major roads that have the principal function of an avenue for movements linking town centres and suburbs. Territorial roads are defined as NAASRA (National Association of Australian State Road Authorities) Class 1,2,3 and 6. This indicator is measured using an industry standard survey that assesses one third of the territorial road network annually.
ACT Transport sets targets in terms of resurfacing territorial roads and municipal roads. Unfortunately, there is no breakdown of how long the networks is, however, there are targets. The TCCS 2019-2020 Annual Report for the financial year 2020 published data on the percentage of the territorial roads and municipal roads that were resurfaced in that year.
|Acountability factor||target %||actual %|
|Acountability factor||asphalt roads %||asphalt paths %|
The work done on roads is much greater that done on asphalt paths with 5% of territorial roads resurfaced per annum while the maintenance on asphalt paths is only 0.34% per annum in the FY2020. While this comparison is not conclusive, the order of magnitude difference would indicate path maintenance is lagging. More transparency from TCCS with better data and better accounting would help to make the differences apparent.
Strategic bike paths: 2.5 m or greater
How much of the path network is of the minimum standard for cycling? The ACT Government makes data available to the community through the Open Data Portal data ACT. One of the datasets is the 2019 data for the community paths in the ACT. The total length of the paths for each path width is shown in the graph below for the community paths in the ACT.
- Total path network length: 3106 km.
- Most common width: 1.2 m and a total length of 1667 km.
- Next most common width: 2.5 m and a total length of 479 km.
- The portion of the path network that has the 2.5 m minimum width (retrofit) suitable for cycling: 19% or 581 km.