Marsh Lane will be pilot scheme for longer lasting road surface

Two identical stretches of an Oxford road will be resurfaced with different materials to test the benefits of a product which can significantly increase the life of a road.

Marsh Lane in Oxford, which carries around 10,000 vehicles a day along a key city route, will be used to trial GiPave – a graphene-enhanced asphalt material. Half of a 700-metre stretch of the road will be laid with GiPave, while the rest will be resurfaced using conventional asphalt, so that the two surfaces can be compared accurately.

Oxfordshire County Council is carrying out the trial with its contractor Milestone Infrastructure to develop the use of innovative materials. Marsh Lane will be the second trial of GiPave in Oxfordshire, following a successful pilot scheme in Curbridge in 2019 – the first use of the product in the UK.

Councillor Tim Bearder, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways Management, said: “We are committed to improving the quality of the county’s roads as best we can within the limited budget we get from the government. That’s why we’re so keen to be at the forefront of innovation by using new materials such as GiPave, which will keep our road surfaces in a better condition for longer – meaning better value for money for our council taxpayers and smoother surfaces for motorists.”

Increasing the lifespan of road surfaces will reduce the need for resurfacing work, ease the burden on highways budgets, and cut carbon emissions for the life cycle of a stretch of road.

Phil Raven, Head of Technical Design for Milestone on the Oxfordshire Contract, said: “This is an important trial to further test the benefits that this innovative material can bring. As we look for new ways to reduce carbon emissions within highways maintenance, developing materials that last longer is an important part of our plan towards net zero.

“Not only can this lead to longer term carbon reduction, it has the potential to reduce disruption to road users and achieve long-term savings for highway authorities. This trial project demonstrates the benefits of industry collaboration with a highway authority that is committed to trialling new innovations.”

GiPave, which has been developed by Iterchimica, also uses waste plastics that would not normally be recycled. Meanwhile the asphalt containing GiPave can itself be entirely recycled – promoting the ‘circular economy,’ which reduces waste and the need for new materials.

Analysis of the previous trial in 2019 at Curbridge showed GiPave increases the lifespan of the surface by up to 70 per cent compared to conventional resurfacing methods. The risk of rutting under loads from heavy goods vehicles is reduced by increased stiffness in the product.

This Marsh Lane trial is aiming to review how the material compares on part of the network that is carrying more traffic. Initial design calculations estimate Milestone Infrastructure’s use of the GiPave material can deliver at least a 35 per cent increase in durability compared to other high-performance materials.

The Marsh Lane roadworks are part of a £1 million, nine-week project of resurfacing between the A40 Northern Bypass overbridge and Brookfield Crescent, kerb and footway repairs and drainage improvements.

The first phase started on Monday 24 January and will last for six weeks. It will include kerb and footway repairs and drainage improvements. It will be carried out during the day under temporary traffic signals.

The second phase is due to start on Monday 7 March and will last for three weeks. This will be carried out in stages and will involve the closure of Marsh Lane, with signed diversion routes in place during this period. Work will be carried out from 7pm - 6am and Marsh Lane will be fully reopened to traffic outside of these periods.

To minimise the impact to residents during the night-time working phase, the noisiest activities will stop by 11pm. Although the remaining operations are not completely silent, the site team will be briefed to complete the work with as little disruption and as quietly as is practicably possible.

More information about the project, including regular updates, can be found on the Marsh Lane webpage of the Oxfordshire County Council website.

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