This winter will see improvements to road winter maintenance, thanks to sizeable increases in funding, updated policies, and a new contractor reward scheme based on customer satisfaction.
In early 2019, the Transport Infrastructure Agency raised its winter maintenance classes for much of the road network. Thanks to the upgrades, about 90% of road traffic now uses roads with a high winter maintenance class. The trend is set to continue this winter.
‘Compared to the winter of 2017–2018, we are spending an additional 12 million euros on snow ploughing and other winter maintenance,’ says Pekka Rajala, Director, Road Traffic at the Transport Infrastructure Agency.
The increase in funding is substantial, as this winter, the Agency and ELY Centres are estimated to spend a total of 117 million euros on road winter maintenance. The additional investments have also received praise from road users.
‘According to our survey, 48% of private individuals were satisfied with winter maintenance last winter, up from 33% in the previous year. We want to continue on this path,’ Mr Rajala says.
In connection with raising maintenance classes, the Agency updated its winter maintenance policies in early 2019. Most high-traffic roads are already covered by the new policies.
Road winter maintenance is tendered out every five years to regional contractors. After a contract has expired, the next call for tenders follows the updated requirements. For this reason, enforcement of the new policies will take place between 2019–2023, depending on the region. The Agency estimates that by 2023, the costs of winter maintenance will have risen by some 20 million euros from 2018.
In particular, the new policies place greater emphasis on high-traffic areas and roads used by heavy goods vehicles. Among other goals, the policies seek to ensure uninterrupted commercial transports, improve road user satisfaction and road safety, and mitigate climate change.
‘These past few winters have been more unstable than usual in terms of weather. With temperatures see-sawing above and below freezing, increased road de-icing measures are typically necessary. Winter maintenance takes into account changes in weather conditions,’ Mr Rajala states.
Besides changing weather conditions, another challenge faced by maintenance work is the poor condition of paved roads. Over the next few years, road paving will be improved thanks to additional funding and by adjusting the amount of de-icing salt depending on the durability of the road surface.
New contracting models emphasise the importance of co-operation between the client and contractor, as well as the benefits of contracting to road users. To road users, the benefits are visible as improved targeting and timing of maintenance measures, among other advantages. By awarding contracts based on tenders, response times can be reduced also for roads with light traffic.
‘Our new contracts emphasise targeted maintenance. This can mean, for example, that the timetables of school buses and heavy goods vehicles are taken into account in scheduling maintenance. Feedback from customers helps us develop these targeted maintenance measures,’ Mr Rajala explains.
This winter, the Transport Infrastructure Agency also seeks to improve the quality of winter maintenance by trialling a new reward scheme for contractors. In the trial, contracts that have achieved the best customer satisfaction or seen the most improvement are rewarded.
‘The winning contractor receives an award certificate and a PR boost in the form of positive publicity. We believe that together with other incentive programs, the scheme will help motivate efforts to improve in the quality of winter maintenance,’ Mr Rajala relates.
Pekka Rajala, Director, Road Traffic,
Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency
tel. +358 29 534 3626
Feedback on road winter maintenance can be given in the Feedback channel at: https://palautevayla.fi/aspa?lang=en
Real-time updates on winter maintenance (snow ploughing, salting and gritting work, etc.): https://liikennetilanne.tmfg.fi/
The Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency is responsible for developing and maintaining the state-owned road network, the railways and the waterways. Through our tasks, which include maintaining the level of service of transport, we promote wellbeing in society and competitiveness of Finnish industry.
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