How a smart approach to haul roads can save time and improve safety

Haul roads are a practical and yet necessary cost. Craig Andrews, engineering manager (UK & Ireland) at Wrekin Products, discusses how applying value engineering designs to a haul road can reap a variety of benefits for the contractor

transport electrical energy from its source, onto the National Grid, and into homes and businesses throughout the UK all require a haul road to safely enable construction traffic to get from A to B to carry out the installation.

W Geogrid solutions, which adopt an under-utilised

range of products, have been around for decades but many aren’t taking advantage of how they can break down the barriers contractors face when constructing haul roads – while also positively impacting all road users.


As a lot of utilities projects require temporary access roads to be constructed across fairly extensive networks – typically in remote locations such as farmland – once complete, the haul road has to be removed and the land returned to its original use. Understandably, contractors don’t want to spend

a large proportion of the project’s time and money on these preliminary, but vital, works. However, there is a solution that helps to keep costs under control, while also accelerating the programme. This is where value engineering geogrid solutions

can reduce the thickness of the haul road typically by 50%, resulting in substantially reduced construction cost and time. Along with significant cost reductions, geogrids

accelerate the construction programme, improve site health and safety, and reduce the project’s overall environmental impact. The intelligent adoption of geogrid solutions is a two-pronged approach. Not only will there be

hether it’s across the Highlands or over Lincolnshire fields, utilities projects to fit underground or overhead cables that

significant upfront savings during the construction works, but there will be further cost reductions once infrastructure is in place and it comes to returning the land to its original use. For example, removing a haul road that is 250mm thick as opposed to one that is 600mm won’t require as many resources. If an engineering manager is engaged at the

tender stage, the impact on the savings to reduce time and money can also assist a contractor in winning the tender. However, all isn’t lost if engagement comes afterwards as savings can still be introduced. At Wrekin, we offer two grades of geogrids. For

permanent, adoptable roads, we tend to use our E’GRID Premium range. However, we also have a more cost-effective E’GRID SX range, which has the same impact in terms of thickness reduction but is lower in initial procurement cost as, ultimately, it is to be used on sacrificial roads.


The team at Wrekin Products recently value engineered a 10km haul road with geogrids in support of contractor J. Murphy & Sons and Balfour Beatty, for the first new nuclear power station to be built in the UK in more than 20 years. When complete, Hinkley Point C, in Somerset, will provide low carbon electricity for around six million homes. The power station will generate a lot of additional

electricity and the existing network and infrastructure isn’t sufficient enough to cope. As a result, previous experience had highlighted the need to engage Wrekin’s technical services as a temporary access road was required so construction traffic could drive directly into the sites where new pylons were being erected and underground cables were being installed. The site itself had a high level of variability in

soils, so a constant cross section that suited those differing ground conditions was needed. Without a geogrid value engineered solution, the

client would have needed to install a cross section in two compaction layers, totalling 550mm. However, as the haul road was 10km long, this would have been an additional drain on the resources required for installation – when a single compaction layer at 250mm would suffice. As a result, 100,000 sq m of Wrekin’s E’GRID SX 3030 – with a bespoke width of 4.5m to suit the subgrade interface – was installed. This substantial reduction in foundation thickness

significantly reduced the impact on costs and the environment. Most importantly, it accelerated the construction process, so recouping time and money. The ultimate exhuming of the temporary access road once the project is complete will also be much more cost and time effective. The project also highlighted the importance of

early contractor involvement as it enabled J. Murphy & Sons to make the savings up front, which was of prime importance to keep costs and risks under control, while accelerating the programme. In conclusion Whether nuclear, wind-generated, underground

or overhead cabling, all utilities projects in the power sector need a haul road to provide safe access. These preliminary works are a prerequisite and value engineering with geosynthetics offers a simple and efficient way to save time and money. Ultimately, value engineering goes well beyond

financial rewards – it can accelerate the construction programme and reduce haulage, which positively impacts all road users. Less HGVs on our network, means less potholes, and any reduction in resources could save lives.



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