17 July 2009
Thank you for your request for information, which was received by Essex County Council on 25th June 2009.
Your request is covered by the Freedom of Information Act, under which we must respond within 20 working days.
The information requested was;
How much the scheme has cost to set up and how much it costs (net) to run on an ongoing basis?
The very latest estimate for the final A127 scheme installation is approximately £1.18m. The final costs have yet to be received.
For the first 12 months of operation the anticipated ongoing costs will be dependent upon the number of motorists detected exceeding the speed limit threshold as the County Council will need to cover the cost associated with the processing of offences.
There is a budget of £40,000 set-aside in 2009/10 to cover these costs but it is very difficult to estimate exactly what the amount will be.
Currently approximately £9,000 of processing costs were incurred during the first two months of operation although this is expected to fall as motorists get used to the scheme; this is quite normal for a new camera scheme.
In a normal 12 month period there would also be maintenance costs associated with the equipment that would be levied by the manufacturers. For the first year they are included within the scheme set-up costs. For the second year they will be approximately £22,000.
When the original benefits case was for the scheme?
The A127 has the highest number of road accident casualties of all the Essex County Council managed roads. A route management strategy has been considered for a number of years and this particular scheme has been in development for the past 2 years in order to address the many serious collisions which occur on it.
The safety scheme has been designed to provide a value for money option for reducing casualties, which have a huge cost to the whole community and also a major impact on journey times and congestion.
The design that has been installed and implemented recognises that the standard of the road from Dick Turpin Public House to the Southend-on-Sea borough boundary does not meet the current requirements for a 70mph speed limit due to the adjoining slip roads, the amount of vehicles that travel along it and in recognition of the high number of killed and seriously injured casualties that have occurred on this stretch of road.
At the outset of the scheme it was estimated that the complete package of remedial measures introduced on the A127, will reduce the number of people who are killed or seriously injured (KSIs) on this busy road by a minimum of 50%.
The scheme is expected to generate savings of 4.8 KSIs per year and 22.6 slight injuries per year based on results from other similar installations around the country. These savings have been valued at £2.2million in the first year alone; this far outweighs the estimated installation costings of £1.2million.
To what extent the original benefits case has (or has not) been met?
The SPECS system underwent a rigorous period of calibration and testing after installation and became fully operational on 7th April with a number of offences being recorded and being prosecuted since that point. As for effectiveness so far, early data shows 60% reduction in accidents despite an increase in traffic on the route.
The scheme will be fully monitored in the first year. The results collected so far are interim results and it should be born in mind that collision and casualty data is usually monitored over a three year period.
For speed data ‘before & after ‘ comparisons would normally be undertaken six months and one year after implementation and these further surveys are programmed during the forthcoming year.
The initial representative speed data collected shows good compliance by the travelling public with the newly introduced speed limits and some significant reductions in recorded average & 85th percentile speeds. (The 85th percentile speed is a measure used within highway engineering and is the speed at which 85 out of every 100 vehicles are travelling at or below - if you are familiar with statistical terms it is also the same as the mean plus one standard deviation).
Journey times have risen by a maximum of 90 seconds at peak times but there is evidence that journey time reliability has been increased and that congestion has been reduced due to fewer accidents occurring.
This is the latest information that we hold on the scheme, although there is another set of monitoring and analysis planned to take place at the end of this month.
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