It is not possible for works to be carried out everywhere at the same time so there has to be prioritisation and that has to be undertaken adopting a risk-based approach, which is what central government wants all local highway authorities like Suffolk to do. The busier a road or footway is in terms of traffic, the greater the chance of a defect causing a problem.
The classification of roads as A, B, C and Unclassified does not necessarily reflect the needs, priorities and actual use of each road in a local highway network. It is important that our maintenance strategy reflects factors such as:
- importance (e.g. a road leading to a major hospital);
- environment (e.g. rural, urban, busy shopping street, residential street etc.); and
- usage (e.g. traffic flows, bus routes and the like).
Suffolk Highways has therefore established a hierarchy of roads, footways (including rights of way) and cycleways which is used to prioritise maintenance and acts as a key link between our maintenance policy and our day-to-day operations. Effectively, Suffolk Highways is giving greater priority to the roads that carry most vehicles and less priority to the less-trafficked roads.
Further information is shown below - you can find out more about how we provide highway maintenance in our Highway Maintenance Operational Plan (PDF, 1,950KB).
|Road type||Description||Detailed description|
|2||Strategic A roads||
|3a||Main distributor - major urban network and inter-strategic routes||
|3b||Main rural secondary distributor roads||
|3b||Main urban secondary distributor roads||
|4b||Minor rural roads and urban cul-de-sacs||
Footways and urban rights of way
Footway maintenance standards are unlikely to be reflected by road classification - it is the amount of pedestrian usage that counts, rather than the category of the road. Local factors such as the proximity of schools and shops are also important in this context.
Suffolk Highways has therefore developed a separate footway hierarchy to assist with the prioritisation of our maintenance as shown in the table below.
Urban Rights of Way
Some footpaths within urban areas are recorded on the definitive map as public rights of way - in urban areas these may provide a route to shops, schools etc. Some of these footpaths are metalled (surfaced for example with asphalt or paving slabs). Where footpaths are metalled then they will be assigned an appropriate category within the footway hierarchy (shown above) and will be inspected and maintained accordingly.
Most unmetalled footpaths in urban areas are managed as part of the wider public rights of way network and surface inspection and maintenance is undertaken on a mainly reactive basis.
The maintenance of cycleways is prioritised as shown in the table below
Cycle lane - forming part of the carriageway, commonly a strip next to the nearside kerb (identified as Footway type 4a (low usage) - see further information in the "Footway and urban rights of way" section on this page
Cycle gaps at road closure point (no entry to traffic, but allowing cycle access).
Cycle track - a highway route for cyclists not contiguous with the public footway or carriagewayShared cycle/pedestrian paths, either segregated by a white line or other physical segregation, or un-segregated (which could be Footway Type 1, 2 or 3 - see further information in the "Footway and urban rights of way" section on this page)
|Cycle trails, leisure routes through open spaces. These are not necessarily our responsibility as local highway authority but may be maintained under other powers or duties.