Glossary of Terms: Highways

The Highway Maintenance sector is governed by many Best Practice specifications, recommendations, approvals and certifications.  Here you will find some assistance on a lot of popular terminology, as well as some leading abbreviations.  If you can't find what you need to know here, please feel free to call us anytime on +44(0)1827 871871 or click here to send us an email.

Here's a breakdown of what these terms actually mean:


An abbreviation of Aggregate Abrasion Value. This is the standard measure of an aggregate's resistance to abrasion.


ADEPT represents local authority chief officers who manage some of the most pressing issues facing the UK today. The expertise of ADEPT members and their vision is fundamental in the handling of issues that affect all our lives.   ADEPT are welcoming and contributing to the recent Pothole Review - Prevention is Better Than Cure.


An abbreviation of Alternative Reinstatement Material. New or alternative materials have been, or may be, developed for use in road construction and maintenance. These materials may allow more rapid, reliable and cost-effective reinstatements, with less dependence on the skill and physical effort of the operators. These materials may also offer significant environmental or practical advantages, and/or cost benefits, compared with conventional materials. ARM's are categorised into 2 groups: SMF and SMR.


An abbreviation of British Board of Agrément. The BBA is the UK's major authority offering approval and certification services to manufacturers and installers supplying the construction industry. BBA Approval is recognised by building control, government departments, architects, local authorities, specifiers, and industry insurers like the NHBC.


The British Board of Agrément / Highway Authorities Product Approval Scheme. A recognised body giving approval for products and processes within the highway maintenance sector.  HAPAS (Highway Authorities Product Approval Scheme) was set up in 1995 to establish a nationally recognised approval scheme for innovative products and systems used in highway works.

Successful HAPAS assessment results in the issue of a Certificate or Report which provides highway engineers with product performance, design and installation data invaluable to the product choice and project planning processes.

Ultracrete has HAPAS certifications for our Manhole Reinstatement System, Instant Road Repair, Permanent Pothole Repair (the first of its kind), and Instaband ECO.  To view these certificates visit the BBA Website here.

Bond Coat

Bond coats are proprietary materials certified by HAPAS that are generally formulated to enable heavier application rates than are possible with tack coats, and to generally provide greater cohesion between bituminous layers.


An abbreviation of Cement Bound Granular Material. Materials treated by cement are described variously as soil cement, cement-treated materials, or cement-stabilised materials. Where aggregate is being treated, the resulting mixture may be referred to as cement-bound granular material.


An abbreviation of Californian Bearing Ratio. This is a measure of the load bearing strength of a granular or unbound material.

Composite Construction

A structure where the road is composed of lean mix concrete or other cement bound granular material (CBGM), normally with bituminous surfacing layers.


A practice whereby the width of the reinstatement of the binder course and/or surface course is made wider than the reinstatement below it, to provide higher resistance to water ingress. Also meaning deferred set bulk asphalt.

Cycle Track

A way of constituting or comprised in a highway, being a way over which the public have a right of way on pedal cycles only, with or without a right of way on foot.   Our Ultracrete Instant Road Repair® 6mm is suited for cycle tracks.


An abbreviation of Direct Labour Organisation. Highways departments which employ their own labour force.


An abbreviation of Design Manual for Roads and Bridges. The “Design Manual for Roads and Bridges”(DMRB) was introduced in 1992 in England and Wales, and subsequently in Scotland and Northern Ireland. It provides a comprehensive manual system which accommodates, within a set of loose-leaf volumes, current Standards, Advice Notes and other published documents relating to Trunk Road Works. It was originally developed from a number of separate series of documents previously published by the Overseeing Organisations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. These documents, together with later additions and revisions, have been gathered together in a consistent series of volumes within the DMRB to help in meeting the requirements of quality assurance procedures.


An abbreviation of Direct Service Provider. DSPs are small to medium sized businesses specialising in particular areas of expertise and/or geography. They are supported fully by Enterprise and must achieve the same performance standards as direct employees in all aspects of quality, image, health and safety, environment and customer relations.

Emergency Works

Works whose execution at the time when they are executed is requried in order to put an end to, or to prevent the occurrence of, circumstances then existing or imminent for which the person responsible for the works believes on reasonable grounds to be existing or imminent which are likely to cause danger to persons or property.

Flexible Construction

A structure where the base is composed of either bituminous material or granular material, or a combination thereof.


A way over which the public have a right of way on foot only, not being a footway. Our Ultracrete Instant Road Repair® 6mm is suited for footpaths.


A way comprised in a highway, which also comprises a carriageway, being a way over which the public have a right of way on foot only. Our Ultracrete Instant Road Repair® 6mm is suited for footpaths.

Geosynthetic Materials

A generic term describing a product at least one of whose components is made from a synthetic or natural polymer, in the form of a sheet or a 3D structure, used in contact with soil and/or other materials in geotechnical and civil engineering applications.


An abbreviation of Highways Agency. The Highways Agency is an Executive Agency of the Department for Transport (DfT), and is responsible for operating, maintaining and improving the strategic road network in England on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport.


An abbreviation of Highway Authorities and Utilities Committee. HAUC(UK) brings highway authorities, utilities and government together with the aim of working safely and smartly to reduce the impact of street and road works on members of the public throughout the UK. We as joint chairs of HAUC(UK) work together with our colleagues in the regions and central governments striving to ensure that processes, systems and legislation do not hamper the travelling public whilst we all continue to maintain the essential services that the utility companies and highway authorities provide.


An abbreviation of Highways Authorities Product Approval Scheme. HAPAS is a scheme introduced about 10/15 years ago (depending upon product) to "approve / certificate" new products for use in highway maintenance and construction, so that individual authorities do not need to undertake their own trials.


An abbreviation of Hydraulically Bound Materials. Hydraulically bound materials (HBM) are mixtures that set and harden by hydraulic reaction. They include Cement Stabilised Material (CBM) (i.e. mixtures based on the fast setting and hardening characteristics of cement). They also include hydraulically bound mixtures based on slow setting and hardening binders made from industrial by-products such as PFA (Fly ash bound material) and blast furnace slag (Slag bound materials).


Short for the Highway Design Standard. A section of the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB) issued by the Stationery Office - Standards for Highways.


An abbreviation of Hot Rolled Asphalt.  Hot Rolled Asphalt is composed of coarse aggregate surrounded by a mixture or mastic of bitumen, sand and very fine material called filler. Whereas coated macadam derives its strength from the mechanical interlock of the constituents, hot rolled asphalt strength is largely derived from the properties of the mastic. Hot rolled asphalt was the predominant surfacing material for UK main roads until about 1995. For this use chippings are applied to the hot-laid material and rolled in to form a skid resistant surface.

Immediate Reinstatement

Works comprising the orderly replacement of excavated material, reasonably compacted to finished surface level, usually with a cold-lay surfacing.

Interim Reinstatement

The orderly placement and proper compaction of reinstatement layers to finished surface level, including any temporary materials.


Restoration of a reinstatement which does not comply with the performance standards, to a condition complying with those standards.


An abbreviation of either Local Authority or Los Angeles Abrasion Value. The latter is a measure of the resistance to abrasion of an aggregate.

Major Projects

Standard works which have been identified specifically in the Undertaker's annual operating programme or which, if not specifically identified in that programme, are normally planned at least 6 months in advance of works commencing.

Modular Construction

A structure where the surface is composed of setts, concrete blocks, brick pavers or paving slabs etc. laid on appropriate sub-construction.


An abbreviation of million standard axles. The cumulative number of standard axles is calculated to allow for anticipated traffic growth over the design life of the pavement and is measured in million standard axles (msa), usually rounded to one decimal place.

Narrow Trenches

All trenches of 300mm surface width or less, with a surface area greater than 2 m².


An abbreviation of Permanent Cold Lay Surface Course. 


An abbreviation of Permanent Cold Lay Surfacing Material.  This refers to such cold lay products as our Ultracrete Instant Road Repair, and is a terminology developed by the BBA.


The penetration grade of a bituminous binder.

Permanent Reinstatement

The orderly placement and proper compaction of reinstatement layers up to and including the finished surface level.


An allowable alternative to preferred material.


The favoured choice between a number of options.


An abbreviation of Polished Stone Value.  The value that gives a measure of the resistance to the polishing action of vehicle tyres. The higher the PSV value, the more resistant the aggregate is to polishing.  Ultracrete will note the PSV value on inormation relating to relevent products.  Please call if you need a PSV value to be confirmed.


An abbreviation of Pendulum Test Value. Originally designed to replicate the actions of a slipping foot, the pendulum skid tester was subsequently adopted extensively for the testing of road surfaces. The BS 7976 pendulum slip testing method remains the preferred slip test method of the HSE and UK Slip Resistance Group. The pendulum slip test remains one of the few methods to accurately recreate the hydrodynamic squeeze film generated in a slip in wet conditions.


The Roads Authorities and Utilities Committee (Scotland) [acronym 'RAUC(S)'] provides, at a national level, coordination and an overview of activities carried out on roads under the 'Street Works' element of the New Roads & Street Works Act 1991 (NRSWA) as amended by the Transport (Scotland) Act 2005. RAUC(S) comprises representatives of the Roads Authorities including Transport Scotland as RA for Trunk Roads and of the Scottish Joint Utility Group together with representatives of the Scottish Government as legislature. The Scottish Road Works Commissioner (SRWC) has a standing invitation to attend.

Rigid Construction

A structure where the surface slab also performs the function of the Base; is of pavement quality concrete and may be reinforced. 

Road & Footway Structure

Includes the surface course, binder course, base and sub-base.


An abbreviation of Specification for Highway Works, published as Volume 1 of the Manual of Contract Documents or Highway Works, Standards or Highways. Volume 1 contains the requirements and approvals procedures for work, goods or materials used in the construction, improvement or maintenance of the Trunk Road network.


An abbreviation of Stone Mastic Asphalt. Stone mastic asphalts (SMA) are manufactured from hard rock aggregates with particle sizes selected to leave space for a bitumen and limestone powder mixture known as ‘mastic’. They originated in Germany and are made and laid in the same way as the more common coated macadams. Some SMAs are used as the running surface on carriageways although they can also be used in sub-surface layers. These materials have no specification in the UK with mixtures being proprietary but approved following rigorous testing by the British Board of Agrément.

Small Excavations

All openings with a surface area of 2m² or less.


An abbreviation of Stabilised Materials for Fills. This refers to alternative reinstatement materials such as Ultracrete Perma-Soil. Mixtures and Stabilised material for fill (SMF).


An abbreviation of Structural Materials for Reinstatement. This refers to alternative reinstatement materials such as Ultracrete Perma-Soil. 


An abbreviation of Skid Resistance Value. A measure of skid from the actual road surface, usually determined by using the Portable Skid Resistance Tester. This value is dependent on the PSV of the aggregate and the macro-texture of the surface. Visit our range of Anti-Skid Solutions.  Ultracrete will note the SRV value on inormation relating to relevent products.  Please call if you need a SRV value to be confirmed.


An abbreviation of The Specification for the Reinstatement of Openings in Highways. This Specification is a Code of Practice outlining a national standard applicable to all Undertakers when carrying out reinstatement as a part of executing street works. Broadly, the Specification and its appendices prescribe materials that may be used, the expected standards of workmanship and performance standards to be complied with at both interim and permanent reinstatement stages for the duration of the Guarantee Period (defined in Section S1.2). There is a strong focus in this Specification on sustainability by encouraging the first time completion of permanent reinstatements, material recycling and the reuse of materials to minimise the carbon footprint of the reinstatement operation.

Stepped Joint

The practice whereby the width of the reinstatement of the binder course and/or surface course is made wider than the reinstatement below it to provide higher resistance to water ingress.


An abbreviation of Term Maintenance Contractor. Refers to a method of contracting used where there is a lot of repetition of work. Eg in the case of regular or planned preventative maintenance work or housing and schools etc. TMC's are often used or repairs , maintenance, renewals, and micro works by councils and other public authorities with major estate portfolios.

Traffic Management Act

The Traffic Management Act 2004 (c 18) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It details the street works regulations. The Act has been implemented from 1 April 2008 across the United Kingdom. All the parties interested in occupying streets/Highways need to follow the specified guidelines. The main highlights are as follows: Effective communication between Highway Authorities and Parties interested in carrying out street work, Powers given to Highway Authorities to impose fixed charges in case of any failure to follow the guidelines, Disciplined approach and advance communication to plan the street works, Introduction of Web Services for communication, Introduction of Level 3 NSG data, Explicit provision of cancelling/correcting or reverting the status of work. The Second wave of the Traffic Management Act 2004 aims to implement Permit regulation. As part of this regulation Work Undertakers have to apply for a permit to work on a street. Undertakers have to discuss and agree the restriction on work timing, apparatus etc. with Highway Authorities. The Highway Authorities should approve/reject the application after verifying the Permit conditions.


An abbreviation for Waste and Resources Action Programme. WRAP works in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to help businesses, local authorities, communities and individuals reap the benefits of reducing waste, developing sustainable products and using resources in an efficient way. Established as a not-for-profit company in 2000, WRAP is backed by government funding from Defra (Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Scottish Government, the Welsh Government, the Northern Ireland Executive, and the European Union. 

Alongside this brief glossary of terms, we can recommend further reading on the below websites:

The British Board of Agrément   www.bbacerts.co.uk

The Department for Transport   www.dft.gov.uk

Highway Authorities & Utilities Committee   www.hauc-uk.org.uk

Highways Agency   www.highways.gov.uk

The Health & Safety Executive   www.hse.gov.uk

The Institute of Asphalt Technology   www.instituteofasphalt.org

The Paving Expert Website   www.pavingexpert.com

Road Authorities & Utilities Committee Scotland    www.roadworksscotland.gov.uk

National transport Agency for Scotland   www.transportscotland.gov.uk

The Waste and Resources Action Programme   www.wrap.org.uk

Wikipedia   www.wikipedia.com



All excavations and trenches in which the depth of cover over the buried apparatus is greater than 1.5 metres. Trenches with a depth of cover that is intermittently more than 1.5 metres for lengths of less than 5 metres are not deemed to be deep openings.