Innovative technology used to avoid roadwork disruptions

The vac excavator in use by contractor JN Bentley on the flood alleviation scheme in Holme

Innovative technology has been used to ensure roadworks in a Westmorland and Furness village didn’t disrupt services for residents and businesses.

Contractors working for Westmorland and Furness Council on a flood alleviation project at North Road, Holme, used a vacuum excavator to safely work around buried services, including water and gas pipes, sewers and telecommunications. The machine acts as a giant ‘vacuum cleaner’ to minimise the risk of risk of hitting any unchartered services.

The contractor, JN Bentley, successfully avoided 50 charted and a further 24 uncharted services using the vacuum excavator, as they laid 280 metres of pipework and constructed five new manholes as part of a new drainage system.

Councillor Peter Thornton, Westmorland and Furness Council’s Cabinet member for Highways and Assets, said the work in Holme earlier this year demonstrated how the new council was once again ensuring the use of the best technology in its highways services to provide the most effective and most efficient service to communities.

Councillor Thornton said: “We are already using three innovative ‘jet-patching’ machines to repair potholes on the Westmorland and Furness Council road network as part of our £8.5 million programme of fixing potholes this year.

“Each of these jet-patching machines is capable of making up to 150 permanent pothole repairs every day in a fraction of the time it usually takes conventional repair methods.

“The use of the vacuum excavator in the flood alleviation scheme at Holme is another highly effective use of hi-tech solutions.

“In this case it meant a gas pipe was identified that hadn’t shown up on the initial mapping because it was buried quite deep underground, but the contractors were able to carefully work around it without any risk of hitting the pipe.

“With homes, businesses and a school nearby this type of technology was invaluable in avoiding any potential service disruptions.

“Now the works have been completed this flood alleviation scheme will provide much improved flood protection for Holme and we would like to thank the local community for their patience and support whilst these works were being carried out.’’

The Holme flood alleviation scheme involved the installation of a new drainage pipe in North Road and additional gullies to support the removal of surface water from the main route through the village.

The £500,000 scheme was a key action in a strategy to manage flood risk in the vulnerable risk area which Holme sits in and was carried out by contractor JN Bentley on behalf of Westmorland and Furness Council, with funding contributions coming from the Department for Transport and the Environment Agency.