Working with the Alliance

The Midlands Highway Alliance Plus’ (MHA+) aim is to collaboratively support its 35-member local highway authorities in providing effective, efficient, innovative, and sustainable customer focused highway services.

We have been working with the alliance on their Professional Services Partnership framework since 2007 and have provided our technical expertise on over 1000 projects in areas including:

  • General civil and municipal engineering
  • Bridges
  • Environmental
  • Geotechnical
  • Transport Planning

The alliance measures our framework performance on a project-by-project basis and we’re proud to say we regularly achieve scores of 8 and 9 out of 10 on their key performance indicators.

Alongside project delivery, we collaborate with the alliance on their wider activity such as their annual conference. Our experts have presented on subjects such as carbon management plans and innovative pavement materials. We also deliver regular online technical training to MHA+ members.

Reducing carbon and protecting the environment

Nottinghamshire On Street Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Study

The government has signaled the end of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030, this will result in an increasing number of electric cars and demand for EV charging. However, approximately 26% of houses do not have access to off-street parking at home.

Nottinghamshire County Council commissioned AECOM via the Midlands Highway Alliance to provide the council with a better understanding of:

  • practical and policy issues surrounding implementing on-street parking infrastructure
  • locations where on-street EV infrastructure may be required in the future
  • types of on-street charging infrastructure currently available
  • an evaluation of the different types of infrastructure available and their practicality in both urban and rural settings
  • specific issues faced in rural communities when providing / considering EV infrastructure.

The report will be used to identify locations in Nottinghamshire for potential trials of the most appropriate on-street EV infrastructure in a variety of settings (rural and urban, residential, commercial, retail).

Sustainable Pavement Designs – A50 Groby Road Corridor

Our collaboration with ORIS enables us to assess the carbon emissions of road projects, and quickly compare and quantify different design solutions and scenarios.

We worked with ORIS and Leicester City Council, via the MHA+ to measure the sustainability performance of our designs for the A50 Groby Road Corridor. Funded by the government’s Transforming Cities Fund and the LLEP (Leicester & Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership) Enterprise Zone funding, this road improvement project will downgrade the existing A50 in favour of a high street environment. It will introduce cycle lanes, new and enhanced pedestrian and cycle crossing facilities and safety improvements.

We generated multiple pavement scenarios for the different designs that considered factors including carbon emissions, cost estimation and material consumption.

Our analysis provided the client with a full range of carbon and cost calculations to help inform decision making. Using the ORIS platform and through assessing different options, a total of up to 20% cost and budget reduction of materials and between 43-55% carbon reduction over a 40-year maintenance period was demonstrated as being achievable.

Using digital and data innovation to drive client projects

Melton Mowbray Distributor Road (MMDR) Scheme, Drone Survey and Digital Visualisation

The proposed Melton Mowbray Distributor Road lies to the north and east of Melton Mowbray. The scheme involves the construction of 7km of new highway, a river diversion within a Site of Special Scientific Interest, junctions with six local highways, a railway bridge and numerous bridges over other watercourses.

We used a drone survey and digital visualisation to create a virtual flythrough. We also created an interactive app to collect scheme feedback from the public. Our innovative approach aided stakeholder engagement and the planning application, whilst reducing opposition to the project.

Combining digital design with drone footage enhanced the credibility of the flythrough compared with fully computer-generated models. The easily accessible and interactive nature of the visualisation engaged an audience of circa. 13,000 via YouTube, plus press coverage. The accessible and simple format reduced the number of queries, questions and concerns typically raised at planning stage on projects of this size. This allowed more focus on design development.

“We were really enthused by AECOM’s suggestion to produce a computer-generated visualisation of the route, overlaid onto a drone video footage of the project area and we think the finished result was fantastic.” Andy Jackson, MMDR Project Manager, Leicestershire County Council

Birchley Island Virtual Exhibition

We were commissioned by Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council via the MHA+ framework to undertake the detailed design of the Birchley Island Improvements scheme. The scheme will provide improved facilities for pedestrians and cyclists and reduce waiting times at the junction. Resulting in reduced congestion, more reliable journey times and improved local air quality.

A public consultation exercise was required but at the time, the COVID 19 pandemic restrictions were in place and a face-to-face exhibition was not an available option. To overcome this, we developed and delivered a virtual exhibition as an effective way of meeting the clients’ needs and engaging the public and stakeholders.

We used our innovative Virtual Consultation Room to effectively complete the consultation. The interactive web-based tool allowed the council to engage and consult stakeholders from their computer or mobile device, simulating the community meeting experience in a virtual environment. A chat/feedback function enabled the project team to answer questions as visitors looked around the materials and collated visitor opinion.

The virtual public consultation included materials such as videos, maps, plans and pop-up banners, but with the added sustainability benefits of removing the need for physical printed materials.

“The virtual exhibition that AECOM provided was found to be of great benefit which greatly contributed to a successful conclusion of the schemes outline business case and government funding.” David Skeet, Senior Project Leader – Growth & Spatial Planning, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Supporting our clients to deliver social value

Sprint phase 1

Sprint phase 1 provides a critical link from Walsall to Birmingham city centre and has been designed to support the region’s economic growth and expanding population. It will also actively combat congestion by offering reliable, connected, and sustainable public transport.

We delivered the concept design and outline business case, ahead of supporting Transport for the West Midlands on the full business case. AECOM’s local engineers then co-located with the client and contractor, in a collaborative environment, to develop the detailed design.

During this time, we took on a former work experience student via a 6-month internship. This was supported by the Hive college as part of their Live@The Hive programme. Jack is now a direct employee with us and is currently working on Sprint phase 2, which is expected to complete in 2024. Phase 2 will see the route extended to Solihull, with over 20 million other bus journeys a year benefitting from improved reliability.

The Sprint phase 1 construction was commended in the Environmental and Sustainability category of the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation Awards 2022. The Sprint team also won the Project of the Year 2022 (value £3m and over) at the Civil Engineering Contractors Association Midlands Region Awards.

Buckinghamshire Council

We’ve been working with Buckinghamshire Council via the MHA+ since 2017 and have delivered over 25 projects, providing a range of services including feasibility, preliminary and detailed design, project management, planning, environmental assessment and consultation.

In addition to project work, we actively support the council with social value activities. Our client account lead sits on the Buckinghamshire Construction Employer Group, which along with local contractors, supports various initiatives around employability. Two such initiatives have included the ‘Big Bucks’ Sales Apprentice Challenge and the Bucks Skills Show.

The Sales Challenge was open to year 12 students across 10 schools in Buckinghamshire. The schools teamed up with businesses (including AECOM) to compete in the CV enhancing competition designed to teach business, marketing and sales skills, along with a greater understanding of civil engineering.

The Skills Show was created to share guidance and real-life experiences, enabling pupils from Buckinghamshire schools to be prepared and inspired for the world of work. We have exhibited at the event and spoken to pupils about a career in infrastructure consultancy. We are currently organising our presence at the event for a third year.

We’re also members of Buckinghamshire Business First – a business-led, business-focused community for new, established, and growing businesses and are actively looking at ways to support their members.

Collaboration at the heart of every project

Didcot Garden Town Collaborative planning

Didcot was awarded garden town status in 2015 and since that time, the town has been growing to accommodate over 15,000 new homes and 20,000 new jobs. The development of the transport infrastructure network forms an important part of the town’s growth aspirations.

Proposed highways development plans include:

  • the widening of the A4130
  • the construction of a new bridge into the Didcot A Power Station redevelopment
  • the construction of a new bypass around Clifton Hampden
  • a new section of carriageway between Didcot and Culham, bridging the River Thames.

We were commissioned by Oxfordshire County Council to complete a feasibility review and prepare the preliminary design and planning applications for these schemes.

Given the scale and complexity of the projects, the condensed timeframe and the number of stakeholders involved, a key element of our role was to develop a collaborative approach to delivery, as we needed to ensure that all internal technical leads, client approval bodies, and other key stakeholders were consulted. To achieve this objective, we facilitated a workshop which enabled all key project contributors to map out potential risks, constraints, starting requirements and technical elements to be completed, along with understanding the required sequencing of activities and any interdependencies.

Our approach helped us to improve collaboration by providing transparency of the proposed design process and allowed us to identify risks to delivery at an early stage and mitigate them where possible, reducing the overall programme risk. It also enabled us to build a realistic programme, recognising key stakeholder expectations and objectives and to clearly identify the required levels of responsibility and accountability for all parties involved in the delivery of the works, ensuring clarity for all.

Woodville to Swadlincote regeneration road

This project aims to unlock the development potential of the Woodville regeneration area which is considered as being fundamental to the future prosperity of Swadlincote. It will provide much needed commercial space, 300 new homes and create 3,100 jobs.

The regeneration route will form an important component of Derbyshire’s transport infrastructure by providing an alternative route for traffic accessing the town of Swadlincote and also for east-west journeys in the area. The route also has the potential to provide additional economic benefits and to boost investor confidence within Woodville and Swadlincote by enabling reduced and consistent journey times.

We were commissioned by Derbyshire County Council through the MHA+ to design the 900m long link road and two roundabouts, and continued to provide designer support to the on-site team during the construction period.

The contractor went into administration shortly before completion of the works. Alongside other supply chain partners, we provided technical support to ensure that the remaining works would be completed on schedule. Our road safety team carried out an interim Stage 3 Road Safety Audit and following the site inspection, and in liaison with the site team, the audit recommended several measures to be completed to enable the safe opening of the road.

This scheme was Commended in the Team Achievement category at the ICE East Midlands Merit Awards 2022.