Road works - Complete guide

Road works are one of the essential components of any public works company. But if everyone thinks they know exactly what it is, it is not useless to recall certain subtleties, not necessarily known. In particular, what exactly does the notion of roadworks cover? What is the role of roadworks? And which entities are in charge of maintenance? These are all questions that we will address below.


road works

What is road work?

To keep things simple, we will start with an obvious generalization: road works are works that take place on the road. This naturally leads us to define first of all what roads are.

Administratively, the definition of a roadway includes the entire network of public roads, not exclusively roads. Waterways are also included. However, railroads are excluded. It also includes parking areas and roadside facilities. The latter term refers to works located on the public domain, which are either an accessory or a functional element. More precisely, for the link to be considered functional, the element concerned must be an indispensable accessory of the road. Otherwise, it must participate in the maintenance of the roadway or contribute to the protection of users.

Thus, all retaining structures, walls, embankments, low walls are included. Likewise, road signs and sidewalks will be considered as such. On the other hand, everything such as pipes, telephone and electric lines are not included because they are not fundamental for the needs of traffic on public roads. The case of the lighting is a little bit different since, depending on its usefulness, it will be considered as a dependency or not. In fact, lighting can allow the safety of the users of a road or, on the contrary, be only accessory by occupying essentially only an embellishment function.

Thus, the road works will concern all the works of creation, transformation or renovation of the various components of the road or its dependencies.

As with any intervention on the public domain, strict regulations will require contractors to contact various parties, particularly to obtain road permits.


Asphalt application

The department in charge of roads

In built-up areas, most of the roadways are communal. It is therefore the road department of the town hall that will be responsible for managing the roads. Eventually, the road service of the community will be responsible. However, some large towns are crossed by departmental or national roads. In this case, the obligation to maintain the public domain falls to the public authority that owns the road, and the competent services will be those of the department or the State respectively.

Within the Departmental Council, it is the planning or construction division that will be responsible for this. As the departments have not standardized the names of their services, the name may differ from one territorial authority to another.

Since 2007 in France, the DIRs, the Directions Interdépartementales des Routes, have been managing, maintaining and operating the roads under the management of the State. The DIR have taken over the competencies of the former DDE.

The price of the roadway per m2

As with any work order, the notion of price per m2 of roadway is crucial. It is one of the major concerns of all the actors involved. However, as road works include extremely different operations of varying complexity, it is very difficult to give an average price.

First, the cost will not be the same for a new construction or for rehabilitation work. In fact, for roadways, especially departmental roads, we talk about a price per kilometer. Thus, the estimate for a repair of the pavement structure, gives an average price of 200.000€ per kilometer. While the same length of bicycle path will cost about 20 times less.

Moreover, if we take the example of asphalt, we obtain prices that are spread over a very wide range, depending in particular on the type of material, bituminous, draining or not.

Consequently, it is clear that road works cover very heterogeneous interventions, both in terms of implementation and choice of materials. This is why it is necessary to know precisely which techniques are going to be used in order to arrive at a precise cost estimate.

Road works 3

The role of the road system

Roads play an essential role in the daily life of citizens. It is in fact the roadway that defines the urban fabric. It is the very essence of public space. The street plays a social role, as it is a meeting place. People walk, play and practice various activities. As for the traffic lanes, they are the ones that allow everyone to move around, whatever the means of transport, pedestrian, road, goods transport and public transport or two-wheelers. It allows the development of economic activities.

This is why every road manager has, among other things, the design of new roads in order to keep up with the development of urban areas. But another important function is themaintenance of the road. This maintenance involves both the work necessary to repair damaged parts and the cleaning, in the broadest sense, of the road.

Road Maintenance

It can be understood as the regular cleaning to be undertaken by the services that have this competence on their public domain. Most of the time, it is the technical services of the town hall or the community of communes that carry it out in the agglomerations. It then requires specific machines, sweepers and specific vacuum cleaners. For departmental and national roads, we will find more shoulder mowers and shredders, the needs being different. For all of them, aerial work platforms to work on high furniture such as lampposts will be essential.

Roadwork contractors are also concerned. Indeed, at the end of their work sites, they are required to deliver a public domain in good condition. This means that all waste inherent to the work must be removed and any elements that may have been damaged must be repaired. For example, bitumen splashes on street furniture must be removed for a problem-free reception of job site .

Most of the time, construction companies prefer to subcontract this part of the work and leave it to the cleaning professionals of job site . It must be said that the machines used are machines that represent a significant financial investment. Moreover, these bulky machines also represent a cost to park them safely. Not to mention the protective equipment and training needs for their employees.

For small companies that prefer to carry out the entire service themselves, it is customary to resort to renting equipment, again for the same reasons.

Here is a summary of the main points to know about road works. A good understanding of what is meant by road works allows you to know without any risk of error if the works envisaged are in the public domain or not. As such, they will be subject to specific rules and this will also determine who you will be dealing with. And the more precise the demands of your clients are, the closer the estimated costs will be to reality.

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