Following the February budget announcement that an injection of £4 million funding would boost Transport for Buckinghamshire's (TfB) gully clearance programme, work will begin from 4th May 2021. This additional investment will enable each of the 80,000 gullies on the road network to be cleared.
Ahead of the programme beginning, we've answered some of your most frequently asked questions about gullies and the gully clearing programme...
What is a gully?
A road gully is a small pot placed along the edge of the road and covered from the top by gully grating, which is made of a steel frame. The main purpose of a gully is to collect surface water off the road and direct it to an existing drainage network, which includes a ditch system, a large soakaway or a water course.
What is a soakaway?
A soakaway is a drainage pit covered by a metal cover which many road gullies feed into. Its purpose is to allow Highway water coming into a gully to feed into this soakaway and drain naturally into the surrounding subsoil. They can get blocked with silt, and in times of high water tables (e.g. excessive rainfall and flooding), they will take a lot longer to drain away. This leaves gullies looking full due to the soakaway being backed up with no water penetrating the subsoil surrounding the area.
What is a grip and why do they need re-cutting?
A grip is a channel cut within a grass verge to allow running and pooling water from rural road surfaces into a parallel drainage ditch that normally runs alongside the road. Rural roads with no man-made gully drainage systems benefit from grips being cut. However, in recent years we have seen a rise in verge overruns by cars and vehicles blocking grips and stopping running water entering the ditch systems. It is important to maintain grips to ensure they are kept open and free of damage or grass growth to allow water to exit the highway and soak into the ditch systems.
How often will you clean a gully?
From the start of this new financial year we have started cleansing all gullies on an annual basis. Previously, we cleaned gullies on A and B roads on a cyclical basis and all other gullies were cleaned once every three years. In addition to this, we will also be cleaning out soakaways and ditches, which is something we have been unable to do routinely before due to budget constraints.
How many gully cleaning machines do you have?
We have three gully cleaning machines in house, once located at each area depot – Aylesbury, Wycombe and Amersham. However, this year we have also hired an additional four machines with operators, from our supply chain partners, which means a total of seven machines will be working across the contract.
When does your gully cleaning programme start?
Our new gully cleaning programme commences from 4th May 2021 with the cyclic programme and will continue until 31st March 2022.
How long can you spend on a stuck gully?
Sometimes, our crews come across a gully cover that is stuck, which means we can’t access it to clean it. Our crews do carry tools with them that can help in this situation, but they cannot spend longer than ten minutes trying to get access to a gully. If we cannot get access, we will record it on our system and return to release it.