Lasting durability: 18 years of service on a busy bus route

Tyburn Road, Birmingham


Birmingham City Council


Tarmac Contracting

Location type

City Centre


August 2003 (Visited March 2021)

The challenge

During 2003 Birmingham City Council appointed us as the supplier and contractor on their major Birmingham bus route redevelopment. Funding was secured from the Department of Transport for an in-laid coloured asphalt surface course rather than a coloured surface treatment. This would form part of the City Council’s ‘Bus Demonstration Scheme’. The aim being to show how driver compliance with bus lane regulation could be improved. A distinctive surface along the bus lane was required to provide a clear signal to motorists to stay out, making enforcement easier, and allowing buses to travel more easily along their designated routes. Choosing the green coloured surface also reflected the council’s aim to encourage more environmentally conscious forms of travel, such as public transport.

Our solution

The project involved a 6km green bus lane for the No. 67 bus service along the A5127 Lichfield Road and A38 Tyburn Road in Birmingham. ULTICOLOUR classic green was supplied and installed by our contracting team. 2,500 tonnes of 14mm green ULTICOLOUR providing effective demarcation of the three-metre wide bus lanes along one of the busiest routes in the City Centre. ULTICOLOUR asphalts use a clear longer-lasting modified binder and colour matched aggregates to produce bright coloured asphalts for effective demarcation on bus lanes, cycle lanes and pedestrian crossings. When installed as a Stone Mastic Asphalt (SMA), ULTICOLOUR has a tough durable finish, that resists damage from vehicle traffic and weathering to keep its distinctive colour and appearance for longer.

Results and benefits

With the project installed along one of the busiest roads in the city, selection of an easy to lay, hardwearing and low maintenance surface was of prime importance. ULTICOLOUR fulfilled this requirement, combining visual appeal and effective demarcation with long-lasting durability. The location was visited in March 2021, 18 years after installation and the ULTICOLOUR SMA continues to provide demarcation for the bus lane and demonstrate its long-term durability. The surface is performing well and not suffering the level of deterioration often associated with other demarcation products. The ULTICOLOUR surface course will continue to provide years of service, were not impacted by underlying road formation failure. The durability is clearly demonstrated by comparing with the adjoining carriageway where a standard SMA surface course has failed. This is an example of an asphalt that delivers sustainability benefits through extended pavement life.

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Additional info

Effective Demarcation

Using Ulticolour coloured asphalt provided effective visual demarcation on this busy route and to clearly identify the bus lane for road users.

Long term solution

Choosing Ulticolour coloured asphalt with a proven record of long term durability helped to minimise future maintenance requirement and road closures.

Encouraging Sustainable Transport

Making bus traffic a priority helped to improve the service and encourage the use of sustainable transport alternatives.

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